The Top 10 Reasons Employees Leave Jobs

15 December 2022 | 5 Minute
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The Top 10 Reasons Employees Leave Jobs

Employee turnover is a complex subject, and the reasons to leave a job are dependent on numerous factors. This year has been particularly dramatic in the corporate world with the Great Resignation, the aftermath of the pandemic and many other factors that have impacted the economy and the workplace. And as studies continue to focus on the main reasons to leave a job, the top reasons are likely to shuffle around and change depending on country, industry etc.

Therefore, when we compiled a list of the top 10 reasons people are leaving their jobs, we gathered insights from various pieces of research to look at the main trends rather than putting them in a definite numerical order.


What Does the Research Say?

There's ample research into the area of employee turnover because, let's face it, if we knew the exact reason why people were leaving, then it should be straightforward enough to solve the problem. However, some of the key reasons for disengagement that lead to employees leaving are interchangeable and may differ from year to year. Therefore, although studies are helpful in gaining a steer into why people leave their jobs, we won't be using one study to illustrate reasons for leaving.

For example, a study of 4000 employees across the US, UK, China and France was carried out last year in the midst of the pandemic. Back then, hybrid work was still a reasonably new concept, and COVID was very much part of life and may have affected responses. In the UK, employees (77%) wanted interesting work in their roles, 71% wanted growth opportunities, and 76% wanted to work from home most of the week.

Yet a different survey by Pew looked at why workers left their jobs in 2021, and the main reasons were low pay, lack of career opportunities and not feeling respected at work.


Why Are People Leaving Their Jobs?

Is the grass always greener in a new job? Perhaps not, but it won’t necessarily stop your people from leaving. So, let’s launch into why your people are looking to leave or are leaving. In no particular order, here are our top ten of why people may potentially leave their jobs from the start of the career lifecycle:


1. The Job Itself

If someone doesn't feel like they're in the right career, industry or role, there may be little you can do to retain them or keep them motivated. However, you can ensure during the onboarding process that you sell a role that clearly reflects the actual role rather than exaggerating it or pretending it's something it's not. Be honest during the recruitment process about the job, what it entails, examples of day-to-day tasks and potential career development. This way, potential candidates can be under no illusion about applying for a job that doesn't exist. Total transparency about the role is key.

It's also essential during candidate selection to consider the individual’s skills to ensure that they fit with the job so that you can make a long-term and effective match.


2. Not Enough Flexibility

The pandemic has given many employees a taste of flexible working. And although some organisations will continue to offer flexible working, others may begin to toe the line and revert to old practices.

But many workers want to balance their home and work life and may resist staying somewhere that doesn’t support them in this. Managers must speak to each person to understand what their needs are and what is doable in regard to flexible working.

A study found that almost 50% of respondents left a job due to childcare issues, and as childcare continues to be an expensive option for parents, flexibility may be the difference between someone staying at your organisation and having to leave.


3. Work Culture

Get your company culture right, and it may help you to retain your people. However, if the company culture is negative, unsupportive or disrespectful etc., your people may feel unhappy and unable to thrive. You cannot underestimate the importance of good company culture and how much it impacts how connected individuals feel to their employer.

Open communication is key here. Your people need to be able to share feedback on how they feel about the work culture, whether it's positive or negative, and there need to be different ways for your people to communicate. This may be through team building activities, all staff updates or regular employee engagement surveys. However, when you gather information about what your people think of the company culture, you must ensure that you act on it.

Above all, listen to your people, pay attention to what they’re saying (or not saying), lead by example and encourage some fun!


4. Pay and Benefits

In a study from the Pew Research Center, 63% of respondents cited low pay as a key reason they left a job in 2021. It’s not surprising that people want higher pay. 

People want to be paid fairly and according to their worth. If they find out someone in the same job is paid more, it will not motivate them to stay. Pay transparency is important, and paying at market rate is essential.


5. Lack of Appreciation

If individuals work hard in their role, then it's likely that they want or expect appreciation. It can be incredibly disheartening to work hard and not feel appreciated or feel like contributions are ignored or overlooked. Job satisfaction may be steered by many things, but appreciation and recognition go a long way in encouraging job motivation.

Appreciation can be given verbally but also through reward and recognition schemes where individuals can be voted for awards or receive spot payments, incentives or, in some circumstances, financial bonuses.


6. Inadequate Management

There is an expression that says that people don't leave their jobs they leave their managers, and poor management or leadership is often a reason for turnover. And although you can't guarantee that a manager and their direct report will get along well, if managers are effective in listening to their people, giving and receiving regular feedback, openly communicating with their team, being inclusive and appreciative and treating people fairly, they should be working towards effective relationships with their people.

Managers have different challenges to the people in their team and are often juggling lots of balls, but they still have to ensure effective communication and respect for all their people regardless of their place in the team.


7. A Sense of Belonging

You can create all the policies you like, but if inclusion and belonging are not practised within your organisation, it could hurt your retention.

One study showed that those individuals who felt a strong sense of belonging at their organisation showed a 50% reduction in turnover risk than those who felt a low sense of belonging. Furthermore, those with a strong sense of belonging demonstrated a 56% increase in performance.


8. Lack of Career Advancement

Regardless of the job or experience level, many employees expect development opportunities from their employer. Such opportunities will differ significantly from organisation to organisation and even if development is not available immediately, employers should have such discussions with their people. That way, even if development opportunities aren't imminent, individuals will gain confidence that their employer will help them to grow and develop in the future.


In the Pew study, the lack of opportunities for advancement was the main reason for leaving a company alongside pay (63%). In many situations, career development in terms of promotion goes hand in hand with a pay increase, but advancement may not necessarily mean promotion. it could be about taking on more responsibility, learning new skills, being coached or mentored or managing people.


9. Feedback is Lacking

Regular feedback within an organisation is essential and undoubtedly can help to retain employees. By creating a culture of feedback where employers are given feedback by their managers, peer feedback is a regular occurrence, and 360-degree feedback is the norm, then individuals should feel like they have the opportunity to give and receive regular feedback.

We've said it before we will say it again, feedback is a two-way process, and ideally, organisations should create a culture where there are lots of opportunities to give and receive feedback through various means.


10. Lack of Challenge

If somebody is in the wrong job, then no matter what you give them to do, they may not feel challenged or challenged in the way that they want to. In these situations, turnover is highly likely and potentially the best option for everybody.

However, for somebody in the right job, a feedback culture can help managers and individuals understand what each person is looking for, lacking or keen to do. For example, an individual may be desperate to run a project and challenge themselves, but if they don't tell their manager and the manager doesn't ask, then they may never get this opportunity or may feel demotivated when they don't.

Turnover costs money and recruiting and training new starters takes time. Therefore, while you are focusing on profits and results, don’t neglect your people. Talk to them, give them feedback, ask for their options and ensure you treat them right and they treat each other well. Work towards creating a culture of trust, purpose, respect and care and listen to your people. Above all, create a workplace they want to stay in.

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