3 Ways Professional Services Companies Can Conquer Their Turnover Problem

In 2016, five major sub-verticals within the professional services market (accounting, architectural, engineering, legal, and management consulting) combined to generate

3 min. read

In 2016, five major sub-verticals within the professional services market (accounting, architectural, engineering, legal, and management consulting) combined to generate over $1B in revenue. Those are big numbers, and they’re expected to rise. Taken in its entirety, the industry is forecasted to grow 5.4% by 2020.

To fuel that growth, professional services organizations will need to build up their teams, adding many more to a workforce that’s already nine million strong. Here’s the rub, though: According to LinkedIn, talent turnover in professional services is at 11.4%, tied for third-highest among all industries. That means attracting great candidates might not be a problem, but keeping talented employees at your company very well could be.

Thankfully, LinkedIn also has data on the reasons why people leave their jobs. Here are some top reasons employees decide to jump ship — and specific ways you can take a proactive approach to keeping them around.

3 top reasons people leave their jobs:

45% of professionals who recently left their jobs were concerned about a lack of advancement opportunities.

It’s no surprise that many employees want the opportunity to grow — to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities and earn a higher salary. Without the possibility for advancement, a job can quickly come to feel stagnant. The problem is, traditional company structures don’t allow for infinite growth. There are only so many leadership positions available.

Thankfully, a traditional structure isn’t your only option. By segmenting your organization into different business units (or lines of business, as we call them), you create new demand for talent at all levels, including the leadership level. What’s more, team members responsible for launching a new unit will have the chance to function more like entrepreneurs without taking on as much risk as they would starting their own company. This is an attractive proposition for prospective employees, and a potential differentiator for your company when it come to hiring.


36% were unsatisfied with their workplace culture.

Employees want to grow, but they also want to be part of a culture that values them. We spend at least 40 hours a week at work; that much time in a hostile (or at the very least indifferent) environment can really drain a person. Companies that don’t actively invest in their people are undoubtedly going to see some major departures.

Luckily, creating a great workplace culture doesn’t have to involve a major overhaul — small steps taken over time can make a big difference. Here are some ideas to get you started: Offer employees the chance to work remotely, cut back on meetings and find a way to make your core values more visible (perhaps digitally). That last one is especially important for professional services companies whose employees are frequently on site with clients, and who might feel disconnected from their office.

32% were unhappy with how they were recognized for their accomplishments.

Recognizing your employees in the right way can be a tricky thing because every individual has a different preference when it comes to praise. Some prefer a public shout-out, others a private kudos. Some might welcome a small token of appreciation, others might be embarrassed to receive one. Even if you approach a given situation with the best of intentions, when you recognize an employee for an outstanding job, you run the risk of making them uncomfortable — or outright disappointing them.

To prevent such a scenario, try polling your employees about their desired appreciation languages. What would they prefer — words of affirmation, or an act of service (like helping them out with a lingering task)? You can easily store answers in Salesforce for quick reference. This is especially useful for one-on-one coaching sessions.

Other reasons people leave their jobs include a dissatisfaction with the leadership capabilities of senior management, a lack of challenging work, and poor compensation. These can be harder problems to solve, but they’re equally important to address. If you feel any of them might be contributing to a loss of talent in your organization, let us know. We’d love to chat strategy.