Why Do Employees Quit Their Jobs?

Want to Know 8 Reasons Why Employees Quit Their Jobs?

Man and woman participating in an employment exit interview
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The costs to your organization when good employees quit are hard to quantify, but they are likely far more serious than you are adding upRetaining good employees, with the means that an employer can control, is critical during a time when the most skilled employees, for whom employers are competing, are becoming more difficult to find—the difficulty of finding them will only increase in the future.

It's unfortunate, but good employees quit their jobs for reasons that an employer can't control. Employees' lives change and their circumstances may place them back in grad school or moving across the country. Their spouses and partners also finish grad school and they move to accommodate their post-college job search. 

Parents may decide to make parenting a full-time job. Employees may seek greener pastures or want to broaden their experience or gain a promotional opportunity that is not currently available in your workplace. And, again, employers have little control over the life cycle reasons why their employees quit.

Costs to Employers When Employees Resign

It's sad when good employees quit because your organization has invested a lot in the employee in terms of training, attention, and commitment. Most of your investment is not measurable which is why losing a good employee is a serious blow to your organization.

When employees resign, you lose the working relationships that the employee has developed with their coworkers, their contact and interworking success with your customers and vendors, the knowledge the employee has accumulated about how to best accomplish work in your organization, and the energy and dedication that the employee brought to the job.

You will need to invest additional untold hours in replacing the good employee when employees quit. And, during the recruitment process, your remaining employees will be stretched to cover the extra work, or the work won't happen until a new employee comes on board.

What Causes Employees to Resign?

With all of this in mind, it behooves an employer to minimize the loss of its employees. But most of all, it makes business sense to focus on retaining your best, most difficult to replace employees. Of the reasons that employers can control, these are the top eight reasons that employees resign.

The job is not what the employee expected when he came to work for your organization. Employers need to carefully outline the requirements of a job and explain to the potential employee how he will spend his time. The potential employee also needs to see where he will work and meet several of the coworkers. You are trying to engage the potential employee with their boss, their coworkers, and the work environment.

If you have another employee with a similar job, schedule time for the prospective employee to ask questions.  Prepare a potential employee for the reality of a job, so that you are less likely to lose the employee once he starts.

Something—anything—is wrong in the employee's relationship with his or her supervisor or manager. Employees resign to get rid of a bad boss. And, the definition of a bad boss is all over the map and depends on what the employee needs from his or her boss. Feedback, recognition, and attention are the minimum expectations—and probably more often than many bosses recognize they're needed.

The employee is not a good match with the job and its requirements. You can spend time and resources to find and hire a smart, talented, experienced person, but you also need to ensure that the job you offer is the right seat on the bus for this individual. If you find that it's not, you have the opportunity to find her another seat—before she leaves for another employer. Let her know that you are seeking another seat for her and solicit her input to find a better fit.

Employees resign when their compensation package is below market and they can get more money by changing jobs—the last figure noted was that an employee who changes employers receives an average of a 10 percent increase for going to a new job. Especially for hard-to-fill positions, you need to stay on top of the competition or you'll lose skilled employees.

Employees have an intrinsic need to know how they are doing on the job. They also desire the opportunity to continue to grow and increase their skills. Especially with the newest two generations of employees in your workplace, the Millennials also known as Gen Y and Gen X, you are likely to lose the employee if they don't receive regular performance feedback, recognition, and attention from their boss.

(Word on the street is that the newest generation currently serving as interns in your workplaces and coming to the real life workplaces in the next few years, dubbed Generation Z, looks for even more feedback—so it's past time to practice.)

Employees quit when they don't feel special. The compensation system, the rewards and recognition passed out must favor your best employees—or you're not spending the money wisely. Nothing deflates the motivation of a good employee more than seeing poor performing employees equivalently rewarded.

Employees seek growth and potential advancement opportunities. Research shows that the opportunity to continue to grow and develop their skills is high on your employees' list of what they expect to attain at work. From coaching to mentoring to formal training sessions, you need to take care of this need.

In fact, the lack of opportunity is cited in exit interviews as a key reason the employee is leaving. Managers need to work with employees on career development plans so that the employee is looking forward to constant growth and development and can see what the next opportunity brings.

Employees need to feel confident that the senior leaders in their organization know what they are doing. They need to have faith that their senior leaders have a strategic direction and are executing on it.

Employees don't do well when they feel rudderless and drifting. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to make decisions that have an impact on the organization and to feel as if they understood the context well enough to make effective decisions.

Pay attention to these factors so your best employees don't feel the need to quit. You also want to track why employees resign so that you can see patterns and deal with the issues before you lose your best employees.

An employee resignation allows you to examine your retention processes and take steps to retain your best employees. Here's everything you need to do when employees resign.

When Employees Resign