Why Do Employees Leave?

Employers seeking to increase staff stability in their workplace have a lot to gain by understanding the reasons why staff leave. Over many years of experience interviewing people who are going through the process of job searching, we have gained an understanding of the main reasons that motivate people to embark on this journey.

What we have found is that employees often avoid giving direct feedback to their employers about the real reasons why they are leaving. Whilst this is understandable, it also unfortunately means that many employers do not get an opportunity to find out about some issues that are causing staff turnover in their workplace.
We have listed here the 9 most common “real” reasons that motivate people to resign.

1. Feeling that their work is not appreciated

In our society, many people look for signs that their work is valued and appreciated. Once discontentment sets in it generally does not go away and eventually decide to leave. The difficulty about this is that not everyone looks for appreciation in the same form: whilst some people may feel satisfied with bonuses and pay increases, many will also be looking for verbal feedback, acknowledgement in front of colleagues or clients and some will be looking for recognition in the form of promotion.

2. Drive and ambition to take on more responsibility at work

Many people who work in professional roles have invested years and money into their education. During their time spent in schools they saw themselves progress from one grade to another, from junior school to senior school etc. So it is no surprise that some people have an expectation that a workplace will provide a similar form of constant progression and promotion. For some workers, a lack of promotion can be perceived and experienced as stagnation and can lead to de-motivation. Whilst not every employee is realistic in their expectations, it is helpful for business owners and managers to understand the psychology of their workers so as to provide an appropriate structure and ensure that the more ambitious workers are kept feeling that they are progressing with their career without necessarily having to change employers.

3. Thirst for formal and ongoing training

As we live in a world of ever changing technology, it is easy for people to feel that their skills fall behind. Many workers who are not offered regular and formal work related training become unsettled as they start to worry that their skills may become outdated. Supporting ongoing training and education for your staff not only financially but also in allowing them the required time away for exams etc can be an effective way to let people know how much you do value them and it goes a long way in improving staff loyalty.

4. Un-friendly work culture

Human beings are social creatures. We are biologically wired to look for connection and belonging in all aspects of our lives… even at work! So, irrelevant of what background they come from, most people want a workplace that they can feel part of, where there is freedom to connect with others respect for individuality and room to express it. Workplaces where people feel under pressure and intimidation from the top generally breed a lot of resentment, which in turn tends to be directly linked with poor accuracy, higher rates of sick days, lack of motivation, conflict and high turnover.

5. Remuneration

At the end of the day, most people work to earn a living, so they can support themselves and their families. The issue that leads people to look for different employer is sometimes that they are looking for more money, but quite often the real reason that hides underneath this is that people actually feel dissatisfied with their working life or working environment in general, and therefore they seek more money to compensate and justify that. We have noticed that people who find a working environment and a job which brings them satisfaction; belonging and enjoyment often tend to be more loyal to their employer and less focussed on money.

6. Location

As Melbourne continues to grow, the amount of time and energy that people spend travelling to and from work is becoming an ever increasing issue. We have heard of some people spending up to 5 hours a day in traffic which is off course unsustainable over the long term. As this issue is more and more common, some employers have been able to offer more flexible hours of work of other arrangements including some work done at home, to ensure that staff do not end up being over-stretched.

7. Work environment

As people spend such a big part of their lives in their workplace it is no surprise that their level of satisfaction or de-satisfaction is directly influenced by the work environment. People who attend a first interview for a new job almost always consider the look and feel of the offices as relevant and important. Indeed, the physical environment that you work in will convey as much information about the workplace culture as what you say to prospective employees. Think for example, of the amount of personal space that each staff member is allowed to have and consider how this may affect the way they feel during their working day. Work surroundings that people notice and value often offer colour, personal space, natural sun light, outdoor views, plants, etc.

8. Expected days and hours of work

What we have observed over many years in recruitment is that the majority of employees are willing to work overtime occasionally so long as they feel that their effort is being acknowledged and rewarded appropriately. Workplaces where staff is under pressure to work long hours for long periods without appropriate compensation tend to have a higher rate of absenteeism, poor staff loyalty and increased turnover.

9. Personal Conflict

As an employer it is important not to lose track of the fact that employees are complex human beings. What this implies is that each person has potentially very different values, beliefs and different sensitivities. Whilst most companies now have policies in place which inform staff about appropriate or inappropriate behaviours, it would be unrealistic to expect that conflict can be completely avoided. What we have observed though, is that workplaces where people are under pressure and do not feel valued as individuals tend to have a higher rate of conflict.