Why People Leave Jobs and How to Get Them to Stay

Why People Leave Jobs and How to Get Them to Stay

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The Great Resignation, which has seen people quit their jobs in record numbers during the pandemic, is not only still happening but is also expected to continue. This year’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey from PwC, for example, states that one in five people surveyed are extremely or very likely to switch employers within the coming year.

Additionally, in the United States, a record 4.5 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in March 2022 alone, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ongoing churn in the job market is driven by various factors including a desire for higher pay and greater opportunity for advancement. In this Careers article, we’ll look more closely at why employees leave their jobs as well as what employers can do to retain them.

Reasons to Leave

A recent Pew Research Center survey lists the following as the top three reasons Americans are quitting their jobs:

  • Low pay (63%)
  • Lack of opportunities for advancement (63%)
  • Feeling disrespected at work (57%)

Other reasons for quitting include: 

  • Child care issues (48% among those with a child younger than 18 in the household)
  • Lack of flexible hours (45%)  
  • Lack of good benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off (43%)

The PwC survey, which surveyed more than 52,000 workers in 44 countries, also found money to be a big motivator, with 35 percent of respondents planning to ask their employers for a pay raise in the coming year. 

Reasons to Stay

The situation is often more nuanced, however, and retaining employees, “will require more than just pay,” the survey states. “Fulfilling work and the opportunity to be one’s authentic self at work also matter to employees who are considering a job change.” 

According to the PwC survey respondents, the most important factors when considering a change in work environment are:

  • I am fairly rewarded financially (71%).
  • I find my job fulfilling (69%).
  • I can truly be myself (66%).
  • My team cares about my well-being (60%).
  • I can be creative/innovative in my job (60%).
  • I can exceed what is expected of me in my job role (58%).
  • I can choose when I work (50%).
  • I can choose where I work (47%).

The study further explored what it might take to retain employees in these challenging times, noting that managers can take steps to reshape the employee experience. Doing so, however, “requires deep empathy on the part of managers and the ability to translate the company’s overall purpose into specific actions and behaviors, so that employees can see how their work contributes to that purpose. It also requires organizations to identify and eliminate gaps between their words and deeds.”

Employee Experience

“Organizations that rely solely on short-term solutions, like compensation, to solve their talent challenges will have disappointing results in the long run,” says Korn Ferry. “Instead, organizations need to think about long-term changes they can make to improve their employee experience.” 

Of employees who plan to stay with an organization for more than five years, for example, Korn Ferry found that:

  • 75% have trust and confidence in their leaders.
  • 76% believe their company shows care and concern for employees.
  • 87% believe they are treated with respect. 

They suggest the following ways to create a more inclusive and respectful employee experience:

  • Communicate regularly and transparently with employees.
  • Commit to equity in work options, career advancement, and pay practices.
  • Invest in development for employees, which will ensure a ready supply of talent for key roles.
  • Listen to and act on what employees have to say about barriers and enablers of work.

Organizations will need to “tailor their workforce strategy to the unique needs of their workers,” notes the PwC survey. Among other things, they’ll need to commit to payment transparency, emphasize inclusion, and invest in leadership development. “In this kind of environment, they’ll succeed only if their people are fully engaged, motivated, and eager to contribute.”

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