Why Employees Really Quit Their Jobs

People choose to stay at a particular company for very individual reasons – only some of which are related to money. What are the real reasons that keep employees at a company, and what can companies do to encourage them to stay?

Some of the classic reasons behind employee departures have to do with family: employees follow spouses, have children, or go back to school. Employers have little influence over decisions spurred by these reasons as they’re deeply personal and occur outside of work life.

However, the majority of reasons for leaving, as confirmed by employee exit interviews and independent research, are connected to company life. In a recent Gallup poll, the primary reason people gave was a poor relationship with the boss. Uncomfortable relationships with coworkers – the people with whom one spends the most time – comes at a close second.

employee retention

More opportunities for development

More people are choosing to leave their jobs due to unpleasant manager and coworker interactions; as such, soft skills training plays a key role in employee retention. In a recent Speexx Exchange survey, where over 700 HR and learning and development professionals were surveyed from around the world, 30% of survey respondents agreed that it was important to ‘Train the manager on people management skills’ and to give ‘Frequent and meaningful feedback to employees and clearly communicate goals’ to foster honest and transparent dialogue and, as a result, hopefully improve employee retention.

Some of the other reasons for leaving are related to job satisfaction. For example, an employee may feel a job is not meaningful because he or she is not able to apply learned skills to everyday tasks, or the company provides little room for development and growth. Research by Josh Bersin shows that professionals agree their ability to grow and progress is almost twice as important as salary. A survey from Mercer, found that out of 163 large and successfully established companies studied in 2018, the quit rate of employees was at an all-time high of 15.5 percent.

The fact is that while competitive pay and opportunities for advancement are important, morale and opportunities for learning and development actually matter more. A survey on employee job satisfaction and engagement conducted by the Work Institute found that ‘Career development, work/life balance and bad managers are consistently the top issues that push employees to job hop, with compensation cited in only nine percent of exit interviews.’ Employees now have the advantage in the job market, as they can easily go elsewhere if a job doesn’t meet their needs or expectations.

employee retention

Communicate openly

So what can companies do to retain talent?  For starters, retention efforts shouldn’t be confused with merely paying an employee a higher salary. ‘Motivational’ programs, frequently designed to reward individuals for consistently performing to reach goals, are also no longer seen as particularly useful. Equipping managers and employees with the soft skills needed to communicate efficiently and effectively in the workplace is a good place to start.

Effective communication starts with good soft skills. Employees with good soft skills are able to successfully solve problems with their team members, delegate tasks, motivate one another, and practice team building in good harmony. Relationships between colleagues and managers may also benefit from improved communication and soft skills, therefore improving employee retention.

To get to the bottom line and truly know what employees want, one successful tactic is to simply ask them what their expectations are and to engage with them regularly through one-on-one meetings, allowing for a more personal connection and face-to-face feedback. Employee desires are usually reasonable. Sometimes minor requests that will not be financially felt by the company can make employees the happiest, such as free coffee, the ability to work from home, or opportunities for further education.

However, simply providing employees with development and training opportunities is not enough on its own to engage them and improve employee retention. L&D programs should deliver personalized learning suitable for each type of learner and generation.