February 26, 2024
March 1, 2024

Why Do Employees Quit...and Why Do They Stay?

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High employee turnover is a serious problem for many companies in every industry—even after the Great Resignation has been swept under the rug. However, employee turnover rates are still as high as they’ve ever been, and “We’re Hiring” signs still dot many business windows.

So why are employees leaving? What’s making them quit in such large numbers? Even more importantly, why do good employees quit? And what can you do to make them stay?

Top 5 Reasons Employees Quit

Many employees leave for perfectly viable reasons that have nothing to do with your company—some people move, others have children, and some may simply want a change in position or industry. However, the most common reasons employees quit are almost always preventable.

1. Toxic Work Culture

According to studies, a toxic work culture is one of the most common reasons employees decide to quit. “Toxic” may be a buzzword nowadays, but the fact remains that unhealthy, unsupportive workplaces cause many employees to leave. Here are some warning signs that you may have a toxic workplace:

  • Employees feel like they don’t get the support they need to excel
  • Employees may feel stuck, without opportunities to push themselves, grow, and get promotions
  • Managers micromanage, constantly checking in on every little thing and not demonstrating trust
  • You have a “hustle” culture without work-life boundaries, leading to high stress and burnout levels
  • Any type of sexual or verbal harassment
  • Poor or unhealthy interpersonal relationships between coworkers and managers

A toxic work culture encompasses many different aspects of your company culture—and many leaders may not notice these signs. Talk with employees through surveys, meetings, and one-on-ones to get a feel for your culture, and be open to feedback. After all, if employees don’t feel supported and cared for, they have a high chance of quitting.

2. Insufficient Compensation

Pay and compensation are huge factors for employee turnover. The fact of the matter is, no matter what extra benefits or perks you may offer, if employees aren’t making enough money, they’re going to find another option.

According to research, 63% of employees who quit in 2021 did so because of low pay, and that number most likely held steady in 2022. And recent data shows that switching jobs is the best way to get a large raise, by far.

You have to find ways to entice your employees to stay. While it may not be possible to give everyone huge raises, try to think of ways to offer better rewards, such as gifts, bonuses, or incentives to boost your compensation offerings.

3. Lack of Advancement/Development Opportunities

Have you ever been stuck in a dead-end job, with no hope of a promotion or advancement of any kind? That feeling of stagnation is a big reason why employees quit. More than 70% of employees who have a high risk of quitting say they want to leave because they aren’t given opportunities or resources to grow in their position.

People take jobs assuming that they’ll be able to learn, grow, and gain new skills and knowledge. Along with that comes the assumption of promotions and raises. While that may seem difficult for every employee in every position, think of it this way—wouldn’t you rather retain employees who have grown and gotten better at their jobs instead of replacing them and starting over?

4. Lack of Flexibility

One consequence of the growth of remote work is that employee expectations have changed. People expect flexibility and work-life balance now, and if their position doesn’t give that to them, they’re more likely to quit.

The typical 9-5 grind is not attractive to employees anymore, as shown by the fact that 37% of employees would quit their jobs if they found a position that offered remote work at least part of the time.

Letting employees choose where, when, and how they get their work done can be a huge boost for their emotional and physical wellbeing. And that automatically helps them enjoy their position more.

5. Bad Relationship With Manager

A study by Gallup shows that 50% of employees have had to quit a job to get away from a bad manager before. When employees don’t get along with their manager, they’re often more stressed and disengaged when compared to those who have a good relationship.

The relationship between employees and managers can’t be understated. Managers need to befriend, support, and guide employees through good times and bad—when employees don’t feel that support (or worse, when they’re actively disliked or ignored by managers), they’re not going to want to stay.

All five of these reasons for quitting lead to a few dangerous outcomes: disengaged, burnt out, and unhappy employees. They’ll dread coming into work, they’ll feel uninterested in their tasks, and they’ll never go the extra mile. And all of that leads to a high chance of quitting.

Top 5 Reasons Employees Stay

To really get a full picture of retention/turnover, we have to look at both why employees leave and why other employees stay. The strategies below are reliable ways to keep employees engaged and excited in their work and happy in the workplace.

1. Value-Driven Work for Job Satisfaction

According to studies, meaningful work is one of the most important things for employees when it comes to retention. People have to really feel that the work they do every day is important, impactful, and irreplaceable.

Make sure employees know how important their work is. Create a culture of value-based work that strengthens the values and behaviors that you want your employees to exhibit.

2. A Culture of Recognition

Employees need to feel valued and appreciated. They need to know that their managers and leaders care about them and are grateful for their efforts. Employee recognition is one of the best ways to convey value and show appreciation in an easy, effective way.

With an employee recognition platform like Awardco, you can create programs that recognize employees for birthdays, holidays, work achievements, personal milestones, fitness goals, and job performance. And when celebrations, collaboration, and recognition are a part of your company culture, everyone will be more excited to be a part of it—and stay a part of it.

3. Long-Term Benefits

According to a recent survey, over 60% of employees state that retirement benefits are a big reason they stay at their company. And 48% of employees say that health benefits are a big reason they join the company in the first place.

Employees need to feel that you care for them and their futures, and with benefits such as robust healthcare plans and 401k options, you show everyone that you’re willing to spend the money to invest in your employees’ future wellbeing.

Work-life balance is also a long-term benefit you can focus on, especially for employees with families. Give them the time they need to take care of children, parents, or whoever, and they’ll love you for it.

4. Advancement and Growth Opportunities

Similar to the long-term benefits, employees want to feel like they can learn, improve, and advance in the company. In fact, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company for longer if the company helped them learn and grow. That’s amazing! Nearly every employee would stay longer if they had opportunities to improve.

Workplace development doesn’t just help employees feel more capable—it also closes skill gaps and helps your teams accomplish more and better things. It’s really a win-win for everyone.

5. Work Environment

This one is broad, but basically, employees need to enjoy being at work. Whether they work in an office, in a warehouse, or at home, they need to enjoy the time they spend working. Environmental factors can include things like work rules, management styles, breaks, team activities, relationships, and flexibility.

That’s a lot. So it’s best to communicate with your workforce to see what they like about your culture and what they would change. Try to adjust rules, plans, or budgets to really show employees your trust and appreciation.

Quit Contributing to Quits—Start Enticing Stays

Employee retention is top-of-mind for many companies, and there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution for every company, every employee, or every challenge. However, there are some universal truths you can keep in mind—employees want a purpose; employees want to feel valued; and employees want to improve.

As you build a culture that empowers your employees and helps them feel those three things, you may be surprised how much your turnover rate drops.

Jefferson Hansen
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An avid lover of fantasy books, a proud Hufflepuff, and a strong proponent of escapism, Jeff has a love of good storytelling. He relies on that for both his professional work and his writing hobby (don’t ask about the 10+ novel ideas collecting virtual dust on his computer).