Employee attrition: it’s easily one of the most pressing – and complex – issues facing organizations today. As countless news stories proclaim that our society is in the midst of “The Great Resignation,” many employers are investing more time and effort than ever into improving retention.
But before your organization can implement a strategy for better employee retention, it is crucial that you learn more about why people are leaving their jobs – and that’s what this guide is for. We’re taking a closer look at employees’ top-reported reasons for leaving a job and discussing what you can do to resolve these all-too-common issues.
Why Employers Need to Understand Why Employees Quit
When an organization experiences significant numbers of workers quitting jobs – or even just a small handful of highly-qualified staff making an exit – it is a red flag that employee job satisfaction is falling short of the mark. But by learning about why employees quit job positions within their organization, those within leadership roles can target recurring issues and make strategic improvements to create a more positive and fulfilling work environment. In turn, this will help reduce attrition and make it more likely that the organization will be able to retain quality staff in the future.
Still not convinced that employee turnover is a problem? Aside from the inconvenience of dealing with employees leaving, your organization also incurs real costs with every turnover incident. After an employee quits, you are forced to spend time, money, and effort to fill the opening, and the disruption to business operations can also add up. For a mid-sized company, a high turnover rate can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
When you add up the true cost of employee turnover, it’s easy to see why it is important to examine (and understand) the most common reasons for quitting a job.
The Top Reasons Employees Leave Their Jobs
Although there are a handful of factors that employees repeatedly mention as their reasons for leaving a job, it is also crucial to know that every organization is unique. As such, leadership should regularly check in with all employees to gain vital information about their job satisfaction, potential issues, and other situations. These can be achieved with stay interviews, pulse surveys, and other key tools.
To help your organization get started with a plan to support better retention, here are 11 reasons employees quit – factors worth examining, no matter your turnover rate.
Employees want to have the chance to learn and grow at work, whether that looks like promotions, professional development, continued education, or other opportunities. High-quality employers offer various career advancement methods, such as workshops, lectures, seminars, and more.
In many cases, the employee is looking to change their career to grow and develop as a professional. It is important for employers to support their employees’ career goals and to work with them to find a solution that meets the needs of both parties, such as offering additional training or development opportunities.
After a certain amount of time, employees can become bored or unmotivated if their role begins to feel stagnant. For many employees, when there’s little more to learn in their position, the desire to pursue new challenges – and build new skills – can lead them to a new job.
If the employee is looking to change their career to find a job that better meets their needs and career goals. It is important for employers to support their employees’ career goals and to work with them to find a solution that meets the needs of both parties, such as offering additional training or development opportunities.
Additionally, when workplace policies (such as flexible scheduling, paid time off, sick time, holidays, and other similar situations) fall short of employee needs, they are likely to leave for a job that better suits their preferences. Although it isn’t inherently bad that many job roles evolve, it can present a problem if the changes are not effectively communicated – or if an employee’s compensation has not changed to reflect their new job or the new policies.
3. Health & Family
Health issues may arise that make it difficult or impossible for an individual to continue working in their current position, or they may need to care for a family member who is ill. In these cases, an employee may need to leave their job to prioritize their health or the well-being of their loved ones. It is essential for employers to be understanding and supportive of their employees and to work with them to find a mutually beneficial solution to any issues that may arise.
4. Work-Life Balance
No employer can expect employees to center their entire lives on their job; achieving a healthy work-life balance is imperative for all involved. If an employer makes it difficult for employees to have the time and energy to enjoy their family, friends, and hobbies, it can negatively impact their well-being and lead to them putting in their notice.
5. Total Rewards (Pay)
You might be surprised to learn that in 2022, less than 10% of people left their positions due to compensation issues. However, higher compensation, particularly base pay, can make a new position more appealing.
Feeling easily replaceable can be demotivating and demoralizing, especially in the workplace, and is a sentiment that most people can likely agree on. Employees want to know that their efforts are valued and that their work is important to their employer. Although this is a common issue in entry-level positions, it can occur in all roles.
An employee may choose to leave their job for relocation purposes, which may be due to a spouse or partner being offered a job in a different location, a desire to be closer to family, or other personal reasons. If an employee needs to relocate, they may leave their current job to pursue opportunities in their new location.
It is important for employers to be understanding of their employees’ personal circumstances and to work with them to find a solution that meets the needs of both parties, such as offering remote work options if possible.
Different personalities and management styles will inevitably result in varying relationships between leaders and their teams – and that’s perfectly normal. However, if employees feel they lack a supportive manager, they may decide it is time to look for a job where these relationships are valued more.
Micromanaging can severely undercut employees’ sense of autonomy, leaving them looking for jobs where they’ll feel more trusted by their employer.
Many factors contribute to the work environment, including the physical design of the workplace and the company culture. Employees generally want to work in a comfortable and supportive environment that aligns with their personal values. A key aspect of finding a fulfilling job is being part of a company with a clear vision and mission and understanding how one’s role fits into the organization’s bigger picture.
Positive feedback and recognition for contributions are important for employee motivation and satisfaction. A lack of these things can be a major factor in an employee’s decision to seek a new job.
Budget cuts and limited resources are not a death sentence for an organization, but they can significantly impact employees’ confidence in their jobs and the workplace. Working with a company where financial stability is affected by budget cuts shows employees that their job could be at risk and, in turn, their retirement.
Employees may leave a job involuntarily, meaning they are not choosing to leave on their own accord. Some examples of involuntary job loss include
- Being laid off due to economic downturns or company restructuring.
- Being fired for poor performance or misconduct.
- Being let go due to a merger or acquisition.
In these situations, the employee did not choose to leave their job but rather was forced to leave due to circumstances beyond their control. It is important for employers to handle involuntary job loss respectfully and fairly and to provide support to employees as they transition out of their roles.
11. General Employment
Starting a new job often brings feelings of excitement and passion for the work at hand. However, these feelings can fade over time, leading to a lack of inspiration and interest in the job. In response, many employees may seek new job opportunities where they can do more meaningful work.
Additionally, some employees may feel that a yearly performance review is insufficient to help them improve and excel in their roles. They may look for a workplace where feedback is more consistent and constructive to help them grow and develop in their careers.
Leverage Professional Help to Improve Retention
Boosting employee retention requires a multi-faceted approach, one that aims at the following:
- Gaining insight into the reasons employees have decided to quit
- Measuring employee engagement and satisfaction on an ongoing basis
- Pinpointing opportunities for improvement in onboarding and recruitment processes
Work Institute utilizes a revolutionary approach that prioritizes the “Voice of the Employee,” empowering organizations with the effective, data-driven tools they need to understand better how employees feel the way they do (and why!).
Essentially, we help you ask the right questions at the right time, so you can make measurable progress that produces better outcomes for everyone.
Let Us Help You Build the Best Team for Your Company
Ready to learn how to improve employee turnover using practical strategies powered by data? Work Institute is here to help.
For more information about achieving better retention and supporting your organization’s success, contact Work Institute to get started.