Revealed: why staff leave small businesses

Date: 23 January 2019

Revealed: why staff leave small businesses

Nearly half of SME employees have quit jobs because of work-related stresses that hadn't been addressed, according to new research.

The report, Causes and implications of workplace stress in SMEs, published by business software provider Process Bliss, has found that 43% of employees in UK small firms have changed their jobs because of unresolved frustrations at work.

One-third of respondents also admitted to calling in sick because of work-related stress. The research has found that the main causes of SME workplace stress are:

  • Having to chase colleagues for updates (33%);
  • Not enough information or clarity when asked to do something (31%);
  • A lack of control over a situation (28%);
  • Not enough guidance from the boss (26%);
  • No response to emails (25%).

"Many of these issues come from people not being given sufficient training or a functioning process to follow that enables them to do their job well," said Alister Esam, ceo, Process Bliss.

"At the same time, managers are checking up on, and micro-managing staff because they have no way of seeing whether employees are following that process correctly. This harassment is stressful, contributing to a culture of mistrust and causing people working at SMEs to leave in significant numbers."

The biggest problems, he said, "simply should not be factors in workplace stress. They are easily avoidable by providing the right training or having functioning processes to work with."

Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents surveyed said they were not clear about all of their company's processes. The most common process failure is employee/new starter on-boarding. Other issues where guidance is lacking include: procurement, credit-checking, HR disciplinary processes and customer on-boarding. In fact, 43% of those polled said their company had lost customers because of failed processes.

In addition, 38% of respondents said that working for a small business was more stressful than working for a bigger firm, while 32% said they do not feel trusted in the workplace.

"Doing more to reduce stress in the workplace is hugely important and should be a key priority for SME bosses during 2019 - staff retention is vital," said Esam.

"Employees do their best work when they are motivated, engaged, trusted and work in a reduced-stress environment and leave a job when they are unhappy and demotivated. Workplace stress can come from many different sources and while no boss can eliminate stress completely, there are lots of measures that can be put in place to ensure day-to-day frustrations are reduced."

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