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Study Reveals Top 5 Reasons People Leave Their Jobs

engagement Dec 17, 2019

It has been a long-held belief that the main reason people leave their jobs is because of their managers. But a report by IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute, which looks at data from 22,000 employees, says otherwise.

In discussing the new study, Talent Management and HR asks, “So why has this concept of employees leaving managers become so wildly accepted and popular amongst HR leaders and pros? You won’t like this answer: We [HR leaders and pros] liked using this reason for employees leaving because it meant it wasn’t our problem…It was those stupid managers!”

Thus, managers got blamed by HR leaders and employees for employee unhappiness—if only managers did a better job! Employee happiness, so it seemed, was the responsibility of the manager. But according to the study, “only 14% of people left their last job because they were unhappy with their managers.” It wasn’t all about the manager.

Here are the top five reasons people leave their jobs.

#5: Unhappy with my manager

As we said, 14% of employees left their last job because they were unhappy with their manager.

#4: Organizational change which caused a lot of uncertainty

IBM found that 18% of employees left due to a change in the organization that caused uncertainty. It’s not that change itself was bad—change is inevitable—but rather when uncertainty was the outcome of the change, that’s when people left. As Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace confirms, stability and job security are very important to employees: “The more stable [that workers] view an organization, the more likely they may be able to see a future with it.”

#3: Unhappy with the organization

20% of employees left their last job because they were unhappy with the organization. The mission or vision wasn’t compelling, organizational issues were too challenging, top-down decisions were unfair. The employee didn’t feel at home in the organization.

#2: Personal reasons

39% of employees left their last job for personal reasons. This reason is the least controllable by the organization or manager because it has to do with personal choices like the relocation of a spouse, personal health issues, or a change in child care. No matter how generous the benefits, meaningful the work, friendly the coworkers, or rich the salary, some personal reasons are too compelling to be ignored.

#1: Unhappy with the job

The top reason that employees leave an organization is because they’re unhappy with their job. These employees don’t like the actual work they’re doing. They may envision themselves doing something else, don’t have the opportunity to do what they do best every day, or are unsure of what’s expected of them. 40% of workers leave for this reason. What does this tell us?

The majority of employees want to be happy with their job, and when they’re not, they figure it’s a good reason to leave. The days of “grin and bear it for a paycheck” are over. Today’s workers are expecting to be happy at work, and dare I say, to love their work.

What will it take for you to love your work? (Hint: it's probably not about your manager.)

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