The Real Cost of Walkouts

When workers dislike their work or their work environment enough, sometimes they walk out.

Maybe there’s a bully in the office. Maybe it’s just not a good fit. I’ve known folks who tried software development, hated it, then discovered they love operations. I’ve known others who tried operations, hated it, then discovered they love software development. Maybe it’s something unrecognizably different from these examples.

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Whatever the cause, the most productive workers often quit first. A reputation for productivity creates opportunities, so it’s easiest for them to find alternatives. You can’t predict exactly who will leave first, but over the years I’ve noticed it’s often the core contributors.

Word also gets around. Companies have brands with their workforce just like they do with their customers. It’s common for workers to ask around about companies they’re considering. I’ve seen plenty of candidates decline interviews because they got too many negative reports.

Delivering product means hiring and retaining talent that’s able to deliver. The damage done by walkouts makes it hard to do both those things.

If folks are having a bad experience, prioritize working with them to understand and address the cause. If you wait for them to walk and reactively try to hire a replacement, the damage may already be done.

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