Workers come and go all the time. In an increasingly casualised workforce, it can be difficult to hold onto those useful and hard-working employees. Why is this?

High Turnover Problems

This year alone, up to 2.7 million employees have decided to stop working at their place of employment – that’s up to 3700 people a day. In a labour market as unstable at this one, this may seem unusual – but clearly something is driving these people away from their work.

There are many reasons why employees hand in a letter of resignation: new job, poor relationship with other employees (or you), they’re moving cities, coffee machine is broken, etc. Everyone is an individual (except for clones, and even then), so there will be different stories for every employee departing.

But a factor which seems to be increasingly common (and often overlooked by both economists and employers) is training and fulfilment.

Self-Fulfilment At Work

Let’s move away from the workplace. When people are asked what they value most in the world, you will normally get a variety of similar answers: “my spouse”, “my family”, “my pet”, “my friends”, or some variation on this (ambitious megalomaniacs aside). These are all pretty standard responses, and you probably have a response quite similar. But all these responses are forgetting the one crucial (and common) denominator:


Not me as in the author (flattering though the thought is), but most people value themselves, and their desires, highly. This is a necessary and natural thing – whilst we are social animals, we need a certain level of individuality in order to survive.

Increasingly, psychologists and other scientists are discovering that most people find “self-fulfilment” to be the most rewarding experience, which overturns most traditional economic (and most sociological and anthropological) approaches to people.

A sense of achievement is one of those fundamental aspects of self-fulfilment – and it is one that is rarely felt by most employees at a workplace.

So What?

So people like to feel good about themselves, you are probably thinking. How does their personal sense of fulfilment impact on my workplace?

This brings us neatly back to training. Most workplaces have training – even if you have been working in a relevant field, each workplace will have quirks and something that makes working there a unique experience.

But the training is often only enough to get people to function at their bare minimum in a workplace. This leads to senses of confusion and, often, a lack of fulfilment and disillusion within the first few months of employment.

So people are unhappy? They should be unhappy on their own time!

Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. And while some employees may be perpetually unhappy at any rate (in which case send them to get medical help), the bulk of employees at least start a new job being happy and quite excited. But when they are confused and not being fulfilled, they tend to lose their productivity. This may not even be a deliberate thing – often it is a subconscious sapping of their desire to work.

Furthermore, not only are people unproductive, they also leave – and leave quickly. Half of hourly employees leave within 120 days. Unless your company has more money than the entire European continent, it is highly unlikely it can survive that sort of attrition rate.

Plan Ahead

So, what should you do? You don’t have to set up philosophy classes, a sports team, or meditation in your office (which would be very engaging nonetheless), but you should find some way to ensure your employees are receiving some sort of fulfilment from their work. And a good, solid, and long term training program is one of the best ways to achieve this.

A solid training program that properly engages and improves your employees can help not only increase their sense of achievement (and thus self-fulfilment), but can also help ensure that they stay in your company longer. Long serving employees can ensure your company rises to (or remains) successful. Old hands who understand how things work from experience, and understand how the company has evolved.

Invest in a strong training program. Invest in your employees. Invest in your company’s future.