Reasons People Leave Jobs and Why Employee Well-Being is More Important Than Ever

Employee well-being and staff turnover has become a hot topic in recent years, with the post pandemic aftershock only adding fuel to that fire. In fact, the full extent of the Great Resignation that followed seems to have caught some companies by surprise. 

As the pandemic was unfolding, you could be forgiven for expecting the prospect of a more fragile economy littered with uncertainty to see people hanging on to their jobs and making efforts to justify their value. When in fact the exact opposite occurred, companies who were already putting their employees at the center were less hit by this phenomenon than those which remained complacent.

The reasons employees are leaving fall into two categories. Those which are situational and those which are organizational. In other words those out of our control and those we can proactively monitor and fix.

Situational reasons why employees leave

External to the organization there are factors which are contributing to tenure, even more so post-pandemic. The extent to which these impact a given organization largely depends on the industry in which they operate and the type of employees they attract.

1. Digitization

Digital advancements have brought about a whole raft of skills in high demand and allows for more flexible and remote working possibilities. It has also opened the door to additional self-employment opportunities. A consultancy start-up for example has a low set-up cost and the added appeal of ‘being your own boss’ if yours isn’t meeting your needs. The Wall Street Journal alludes to a ‘historic burst’ of entrepreneurship in the hundreds of thousands. Whether it be for the flexibility or because they are disenchanted with their current employee, the bottom line is, the concept of ‘going at it alone’ is gaining appeal.

2. Generational shift

With the Great Resignation came the Great Retirement for many Baby Boomers (born 1955-1964) seeking to escape the daily grind. Others are simply nearing retirement age. The Washington Post reported that the percentage of boomers in the workforce fell six percentage points to 33% at the beginning of the pandemic. Taking their place are Gen X employees (born 1965-1980), with Millenials moving up the ranks too. On top of this, new waves of Gen Z (born 1997-2012) are coming on board as graduates, bringing with them rather different outlooks and expectations. 

Suffice to say that newer generations offer a great deal in terms of creativity and digital savviness, however their attitude to company loyalty differs to their older counterparts.  For a boomer, it is not unusual to remain in a company for over 10 years. CareerBuilder reported the average at around 8 years in 2021. Gen X on the other hand spend a bit less at just over five years in a job, and Millennials less than three years. We can only assume that without drastic measures, Gen Z’s may continue this trajectory as more enter the workforce.

While these factors are out of our control, it pays to be aware of them and adjust the strategy to minimize their impact. Or even embrace the evolving workplace.

Organizational reasons why employees leave

Directly tied to the company are organizational factors which contributed to tenure even pre-pandemic. They come together to form the overall company culture where mere benefits and perks are no longer cutting it as reasons not to look elsewhere. 

1. Burnout and lack of work life balance 

HubSpot conducted a survey with 500 marketing professionals who cited burnout and a lack of work life balance among the top reasons for employee turnover. In fact a lack of work life balance was the number one reason at 41%, while burnout scored 20%. 

The pandemic only amplified this. As our ‘life’ component diminished with lockdowns, the ‘work’ part only increased. And for teams that shrunk in size, burnout inevitably followed for remaining employees. The problem is that burnout is somewhat of a vicious cycle. Employees leaving due to burnout causes other employees to leave due to burnout – until it is addressed at the source.

2. Lack of development opportunities 

It might come as a surprise but a lack of career development trumps money as the number one reason people leave their job. Forbes busts the myth that the best employees will leave for better paying jobs regardless of the training you provide. This is because while more money may provide a temporary fix, lack of engagement arises from a lack of effort on the company’s part to offer growth opportunities. In fact it scored 27% as a reason for leaving in the same HubSpot survey.

3. Lack of flexibility 

Remote working and flexible hours often go hand in hand. That is, if you can offer the first, you can probably offer the latter. As professional industries were forced to trial remote working during the pandemic, many adopted a version of it in their post-pandemic workplace. This saw the typical 9-5 workday go out the window. Employees either became accustomed to fitting their work around their lives, or envied those who did. Of the HubSpot respondents, 37% cited remote working and 31% flexible hours (or lack thereof) as their reasons for leaving.

4. Poor leadership

A survey by DDI’s Frontline Leader Project of 1,000 participants found that 57 percent of employees have left a job because of their manager, 14 percent have left multiple jobs because of their managers, and an additional 32 percent have considered leaving because of their manager. 

Giving your managers the resources to know how employees view them and the company in a set of predefined areas helps them address concerns before they become problems. If leadership is a factor, the Beaconforce Frontline Management Support is here to help managers develop the necessary leadership skills to drive lasting change.

Employees leaving due to Company Culture

The Society of Human Resource Management defines a ‘Company Culture’ as a set of shared beliefs and values held by the organizations’ leaders and reinforced to employees. Indeed the organizational culture is central to a company. It is what they pride themselves on and should work hard to preserve. 

For good reason the culture of a company has long been a focus of the interview process, key to determining whether a candidate is the right ‘fit’. Then the Great Resignation saw the balance of power shift in favor of employees, who are equally eager to know if the company culture is the right fit for them. As such, factors such as flexibility, management style, family friendliness or work life balance became more important than ever. And if the company doesn’t stack up, they may look elsewhere.

We have touched on the benefits of nurturing a high-development culture which keeps employees motivated and engaged. Now let’s take a look at the type of culture which sits at the other end of the spectrum – the dreaded ‘toxic company culture’. 

If you haven’t come into contact with a toxic workplace yourself, chances are you will know someone who has. But what constitutes a toxic work culture? A Forbes article identifies the following toxic culture attributes:

  • Hustle culture: think burnout and lack of work-life balance
  • Blame culture: where every workers is out for themselves, maybe even managers
  • Clique culture: pretty much the opposite of an inclusive culture
  • Authoritative culture: where listening to employees wouldn’t factor
  • Fear-based culture: employees tend to keep thoughts and feelings to themselves

Thankfully many of these traits are becoming less prevalent in the modern workplace. Despite this, a recent study of 2,200 workers in the US found that 33% were considering leaving their jobs citing a toxic culture as the number one reason. 

Putting employee wellbeing first to reduce turnover and improve morale

Scary statistics should not be the tipping point for companies to keep an eye on their culture. Even if employees were willing to tolerate less than favorable conditions, how would that impact productivity, creativity and morale? It is also an added obstacle when striving for a high-development culture over time. Not to mention the increased challenge of attracting the best talent if your organization becomes tainted by negative employee reviews. 

But most importantly of course, your people are your business. They give up their time to work for your organization and not another. Recognizing this, it’s no wonder more companies are committed to looking after the health and wellbeing of their people. Learn more about the importance of nurturing mental health in the workplace.

Find the best solution for your organization

Our Advanced People Analytics Plan allows managers the ability to understand in real time the fundamental factors that curate the well-being of people in the company. This ability to interpret the current status of every employee leads to improvement in the well-being of the overall organization. 

Give your people the support they need in these unprecedented times. 

mental health workplaceBeaconforce
Vicky Reddington Amplified GroupBeaconforce