5 Reasons your designers are walking out ...

By Victoria Fellows


We speak to a lot of people about their work. A LOT. Collectively, our candidates perform a wide variety of roles for an even wider variety of companies. They work at different levels in different locations, on different projects in different sectors. However, whenever we ask the question ‘So, why did you leave your last role?’ We get the same fistful of answers time and time again.

In this post we bring to you the most common of these responses in the hope that such issues can be prevented and so happy and healthy working relationships can be maintained.  Let’s go!

1:  “There’s no room for growth”

Imagine you’re a black-belt designer, aspiring and inspiring (and probably perspiring) your way up the career ladder – only suddenly you’ve run out of rungs. It can be pretty demoralising, nobody likes to be stuck in a rut. Whether it’s because you’ve outgrown the pond or simply because there are too many competitors, having no room for personal growth can be more than enough reason to start fishing around for other opportunities. 

2:  “The role changed”

None of us can tell what the future will hold – business plans alter course and projects adapt accordingly, but whenever such shifts occur take a minute to consider how it affects your team. Change in responsibility is not always a bad thing but it can sometimes be a deal-breaker. I’ve spoken with designers who accepted positions advertising that 10% of the role will be wireframing, and after too long doing nothing else but wireframing they’ve decided it’s not working out. Nobody likes feeling misled, and straying from what they signed up to do might just be enough to drive your designer to update their CV and buy some 1st class stamps. (People still use stamps, right?)

3: “The design team felt like a separate entity”

Feeling valued, being understood - these are common things sought in most walks of life. If your designer constantly has to fight to have their voice heard then that’s not a good sign. Too often are designers left feeling as though they have to justify their work, their trade, and even their career choices to those who don’t yet see the importance of what they do. The way the world perceives design is shifting and the growing relevance of User Experience is evident throughout almost every industry. If your company still views your role as an afterthought, a mere tick-in-the-box, then perhaps you shouldn’t be surprised when your designers hop the fence to go work with Greener Grass, Inc. where the work is integrated into the company culture. 

4: “I wasn’t able to engage with the work”

Now, as people have pointed out to me many times, this is very different from being bored by the work. A creative mind is a tremendous thing – it’s a dot-connecting, problem-solving übercomputer, capable of drawing untamed inspiration from the quotidian and the mundane. But that doesn’t mean it can survive on a claustrophobic diet of controlled tasks and constrained action. Creative minds need freedom to experiment, to immerse themselves in problems in their own ways. Having the right environment is essential to peak creativity and without it you run the risk of limiting the level at which your designers can engage with their work. This can be immensely frustrating, especially if they feel like their potential is being stifled. 

5: “The money”

Okay, you got me there. Sometimes people just want a financial upgrade and if there’s no flex in your budget then there’s not much you can do about it...or is there? Of course, fair remuneration for their services is important, but from my experience, the majority of people are willing to negotiate when it comes to how much they earn. This doesn’t mean selling themselves short, but compromises can be made when other factors are considered. I promise you, a little extra pocket money is not enough to retain your designers in the long run. Sooner or later they’ll start hunting for the right opportunity. 

So, about this ‘right opportunity’…what on Earth is it? We’ve just been through it all! 

  • Clear career progression and personal development. 
  • Reassurance that the job they signed up for is the one they’ll perform. 
  • An understanding audience for the voice of design in a company that values their work. 
  • A flexible environment in which they can work freely and feed their creative needs. 

It’s my honest opinion that if you’re able to offer your designers all of these things then, even in the face of a bigger paycheque, they will be less inclined to walk away.