“I Quit”: Why Employees Quit and How to Retain Them

As the old adage goes, people don’t quit a job – they quit their boss. We’ve heard it so many times that it’s often difficult to postulate any other reason why employees quit. At some point or another, all managers have asked themselves, Did the employee leave because I’m a bad boss? This article takes a deep dive into top reasons employees quit to help you discern what is impacting employee retention and what employees are looking for in an organization.

The most skilled and experienced employees are in constant pursuit of a good career. Corporate America may bestow lavish perks, but they’re far from enough to retain key staffers. There’s no denying that employee ‘retention’ is the number one issue on the minds of CEOs today – not just in America, but around the world. A high attrition rate is a costly challenge for any business. It’s expensive to replace even hourly employees, as Investopedia reports the turnover can cost a business around $3,500. Sometimes the real cost of fully replacing an employee may run north of $40,000, including advertising, recruitment fees, the time it takes to train a replacement, and not to mention the lost productivity in between.

reasons why employees quit people leave jobs

While sizeable pay packages and bombastic job titles do account for many resignation emails, so do reasons such as stingy benefits and changing career goals. Research into reasons employees leave their jobs has unearthed a host of job satisfaction and engagement factors that play a monumental role in employees deciding to seek new pastures.

Push and Pull Factors: When analyzing why people quit their jobs the causes can be categorized into ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors; also known as factors to do with the current organization that push people out of the exit door, and factors that pull people away to other organizations. Push factors such as poor leadership, lack of career development, lack of recognition, or unclear career paths may compel an employee to leave, start thinking about other options, talking to recruiters, or looking at ads on the internet, etc. These are the factors you should focus on improving. Pull factors such as an employee’s desire to change career paths, family obligations, etc. may attract them to a new place of work. By strengthening employee engagement efforts such as training and development, employee recognition, and leadership one can reduce the power of pull factors on employees.

Why Employees Quit

As we’ve seen above, there can be a variety of factors that contribute to an employee’s decision to turn in their two weeks’ notice. From the usual answers during exit interviews – “more money” to “better opportunity” – there are plenty of common denominators that compel even the most loyal employees to quit.

When the office culture is TOXIC.

According to a Hays survey, 43% of respondents claim corporate culture was the main reason for their decision to leave that job behind. A toxic work environment may come in many forms and only gets worse with time. Here are a few examples of a toxic work culture:

  • Bad communication
  • Office cliques
  • Gossipy coworkers
  • Unmotivated workers
  • Rapid employee turnover
  • No career growth
  • Employee Burnout
  • Poor leadership

The problem with toxic workplaces is that they follow you home. They creep into your conversations with loved ones, and steal your much-needed peace of mind, and generally cause a slew of wellbeing issues. You may refer to this mini guide on how to prevent toxic behavior in the workplace.

When there is no room for GROWTH.

It’s human nature to grow. A Randstad survey notes that 58% of workers said their companies didn’t (during pre-pandemic times!) have enough growth opportunities for them to stay long term. Even senior executives with decades of experience in their role will acknowledge lack of growth as one of the reasons worth considering a career change. It seems obvious that if you want high retention you will need to make sure your employees know they aren’t handcuffed to their current role and there is ample of room for them to move up the ladder.

When they are opening their own BUSINESS.

The gig economy has given talented young men and women once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue their passion projects outside of office hours. These hours are generally occupied with detailed business strategies, developing webpages and social media accounts, raising funds, and checking items off of their new business to-do lists. But there comes a point in any entrepreneur’s life when it’s time to quit their job and turn the side hustle into a full-time gig. Most entrepreneurs need to risk the comfort that comes along with a cushy job in order to move forward with their entrepreneurial dreams. While it’s not one of the most common reasons why employees quit their jobs it’s one that cannot be ruled out in today’s gig economy.

If you pay attention to these reasons why employees quit, you’ll reduce high attrition and retain highly valuable staffers. Valuing the people who work for you can undoubtedly make your daily operations smoother while potentially smoothening your bottom line.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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