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12 Reasons Employees Quit (and How to Prevent It)

Sean Peek
Sean Peek Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 20, 2022

Are you having a hard time retaining employees? It could be due to one (or more) of these reasons.

Many employers assume that money is the main reason why employees quit, but only 12% of workers leave a company because they want a raise or could earn more elsewhere. In fact, according to a survey of 2,285 U.S professionals, 9 out of 10 said they were willing to earn less money if it meant the work was more meaningful.

What’s causing the increase in employee turnover rates? Check out these 12 reasons why employees quit so you can prevent your workers from leaving.

1. Their work arrangements aren’t flexible.

Most employees expect a more relaxed schedule today. They’re not looking for a typical 9-to-5 gig that requires them to be in the office every day. If a company offers a more lenient schedule, workers would likely choose that organization over an employer who doesn’t.

In fact, 37% of employees would quit their current position for another job that allowed them to work remotely part of the time while 82% of employees would be more loyal to their current employer if they offered more flexibility.

2. Their boss lacks empathy.

A recent Businesssolver survey revealed that 93% of employees are more likely to stay with their job if their boss is empathetic.

Empathy is crucial for leaders, especially if you manage a team of skilled workers and want to keep them on board long term. As a manager or boss, you should care about them as people, not just employees. If you do, your employees will be more willing to go the extra mile.

3. They feel disengaged.

According to Gallup, engaged employees are 59% less likely to look for a new job. On the other hand, disengaged employees are quick to seek employment elsewhere.

If your workers have a difficult time finding meaning in their work, they won’t stay with your company for very long. Talk to your workers. Find out what piques their interest, and let them have a say in their responsibilities.

4. They feel undervalued.

No one wants their performance to go unnoticed, especially if they’re putting in extra hours or working harder than other employees. However, many workers feel this way, and 66% said they would consider leaving their job for lack of appreciation.

A simple “thank you” or “great job” goes a long way. Express gratitude to your employees and let them know when they’ve done something well that you’re proud of them.

5. They feel underutilized.

When people report feeling underutilized at work, they’re not only referring to the volume of work but also the type of work they’re doing. Many employees want to do work that is meaningful or challenges them to expand their skills. When work is no longer stimulating, they’ll seek new opportunities. Talk to your employees and, when needed, help them rediscover their purpose in their work. Give them new or increased responsibilities.

6. They are overstressed or overworked.

While it makes sense to reward high achievers with more responsibilities (and work), be careful. Employees who are overwhelmed with the demands of the job may leave for what they feel are greener pastures.

Make sure your team has a balanced workload. If you increase an employee’s responsibilities, pair it with a promotion, raise or other tangible benefits.

7. They have no opportunities to advance.

Most employees accept a job offer in the hopes they will move up in the company. But when they hit the two-year mark and there’s no talk about a promotion, they’ll likely get antsy. More than 70% of “high-retention-risk” employees want to leave because they aren’t given the chance or resources to grow in their current role. Depriving your team of advancement opportunities is a surefire way to lose top talent.

8. They’re burned out.

Burnout is dangerous for your employees and your business. Employees who are burned out lack energy, passion and motivation to do their work. Help your employees avoid burnout by giving them opportunities to take time off and encouraging them to do so.

9. The company’s culture is poor.

A positive company culture is crucial. Now more than ever, workers want to feel a sense of belonging in their workplace. But not all businesses have a welcoming atmosphere. A survey conducted by HAYS found that 47% of people actively looking for new positions blame company culture as their main reason for wanting to leave their current job.

10. They feel a lack of trust and autonomy.

A positive employee-manager relationship requires trust and leads to better outcomes in the workplace. Employees thrive in environments where their supervisors trust them and they have sufficient autonomy to do their jobs. When leaders micromanage employees, workers feel anxious, and they are unable to work effectively.

To keep your best employees, guide them in their roles without overmanaging them. Learn to let go; trust your team, and provide more support only when necessary.

11. Other good employees leave.

Whether it’s an effective leader or a well-liked team member who takes a new job, workers may no longer feel the connection to the company they once did and thus leave, too. Or your company may experience a wave of “two-week notices” because employees want to leave what they perceive to be a sinking ship.

You can’t always keep a strong employee from leaving or prevent others from following suit. Further, drawing up non-compete and non-solicit agreements, and requiring that employees sign these contracts is expensive, plus it often backfires. Instead, treat your employees well and keep an eye on your top performers. Retaining your best employees has ripple effects in your organization.

12. There is a change in their personal life.

There are many changes in one’s personal life that necessitate they find a new job. An employee may move to a new state (or country), whether it’s for themselves, family or a significant other. Changes in one’s health or family also cause employees to leave the workforce or seek out a more flexible position.

Co-workers who become romantically involved can also lead to one or both employees leaving – couples may want to adjust their relationship dynamic by taking separate jobs. And if the relationship doesn’t last, working with an ex can be uncomfortable.

This is the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” situation – as the boss or manager, you, unfortunately, don’t have any control over the situation. The best thing you can do is support your employees as best as you can, both while they’re under your management and through any transitions away from the company.

To ensure your employees feel fulfilled and secure at work, openly communicate with them, and encourage them to be honest with you. If they come to you with concerns and issues, don’t just say you’ll solve them – actually follow through.

Sammi Caramela contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.

Image Credit: Ivan-balvan / Getty Images
Sean Peek
Sean Peek Contributing Writer
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.