Why People Quit Their Jobs (Hint: It’s Not Because of Pay)

Published March 23, 2020 (last updated July 22, 2020) -

Think back to your early working career – your very first job, how long did you stay before you quit that job? If you’re still working the same job years later, you’d be in the minority of people surveyed in the recent Employee Turnover Survey conducted by careeraddict.com.

The study, conducted between November and December 2019, asked respondents to share about their employment history, with the focus on the reasons why they left their jobs and what was most important to them to stay in a role for the long run.

According to the results, if you’re in the majority of men and women surveyed, you most likely had already left your first job by the time you were 25 years old.

The statistics speak for themselves

3 in 5 employees will have already quit their first job by the age of 25 years old. This was found across all ages that were surveyed, which ranged from 17 years old and younger, to 56 years old and higher.

So why is it so common for people to be quitting their jobs so early on?

The number one reason for people quitting is not what you think

Most people would probably guess that it has to do with pay. Income can be a major factor in job satisfaction.

However, according to the study, even though salary does play a role, it’s actually a smaller one when it comes why employees will leave their job.

The careeraddict.com survey found that the number one reason for quitting was actually a lack of career progression.

Among other factors that influenced their decision to quit, respondents valued their career progression above their rate of pay. When employees don’t feel that there’s room to develop professionally, this is more likely to lead to dissatisfaction, and much less investment in their role.

When employees were asked in this survey about how the opportunity to progress would affect their decision to stay or leave a company, 27% said it would very much affect their choice. This is contrasted to only 7.78% who said that career progression didn’t at all affect their decision. Across different age groups involved in the study, and both genders, it was found that professional development was a key consideration in job retention.

“One of the most important factors in selecting a position (and for managers to consider in hiring and leading people) is making sure the job is going to help you learn and fulfil your own career goals,” said Global Industry Analyst Josh Bersin, quoted in the report.

“For some people, this means rapid advancement and challenge. For others, it means a reasonable workload and supportive work environment. When these expectations are clear and aligned, people love their work and will stay for many years.”

That’s not the whole story, however

It’s important to note that there are also diverse priorities additional to the main reasons for quitting.

Other answers that people highlighted as important decision-making factors leading to quitting their job include:

  • Poor leadership
  • A change of their own career goals
  • Not getting a promotion they feel they deserved
  • Poor benefits
  • Weak cooperation between the team
  • And a non-flexible schedule.

Second to the consideration of professional development was the rate of pay, and coming in third for the reason why people quit is not receiving a well-deserved raise.

All of these reasons point to something interesting – it’s about our value as workers. If we feel undervalued not only in our pay, but also in our prospects of receiving acknowledgement through advancing in our responsibly and salary in the future, it seems we are much less likely to invest our energy into that role.

Employee retention – how to keep your employees in it for the long run

Essentially, it comes down to expressing your appreciation for your employees, and being clear about the prospects of future development from the start.

But how can business owners create this kind of environment and work culture? Here’s some tips to get started:

  • Invest in strong leaders who are able to foster communication between employees
  • Understand the different ways you can acknowledge your employees for their work, and provide benefits and incentives for growth
  • Learn how to organise your business model to foster growth for workers, so as the company grows, they grow too
  • Get clear on employee rights and share them with your team to show that you value and respect their presence.

Related: Rewarding And Retaining Employees With Flexible Work Arrangements

Retention is always a focus for businesses keen on growth and maintaining a consistent and productive workforce. And based on this data, successfully retaining staff may not always comes down to salary or lucrative bonuses. Giving people a chance to grow may be a better and more sustainable long term strategy.

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