Here’s Why People Really Quit Their Jobs

There are plenty of reasons to stay in a job you’re not crazy about. Maybe the work excites you, for example, but the company doesn’t. A new survey shows our reasons for leaving a job are diverse, and often fall on management.

PayScale’s most recent findings come from more than 500,000 respondents over 2015 and 2016. Responses were on a ‘one to five’ scale of worst to best, and covered everything from company communication to how well employees think they’re paid.

The main takeaways are that people want to feel appreciated; they also want a high salary, and to work for a company with a bright future. Communication between management and their charges is also key, and best received via on-on-one situations.

Drilling down further into details, some interesting trends emerge. When it comes to job satisfaction, corporate appreciation matters most to respondents, while the company’s outlook is also a strong contender. The least important factor for employees is their pay versus market value. As PayScale states: “The primary driver of satisfaction moved the needle 10.9 times more than the least important, and the most important variable for intent to leave increased employee retention 7.8 times more than the least important.”

Satisfaction and attrition are closely related, but have some variance in this survey. “Company outlook is far and away the chief driver of intent to leave,” PayScale added. “An employee who strongly agreed that their company had a bright future is half as likely to plan on leaving in the next six months than a neutral employee. A worker who strongly disagreed with that statement, on the other hand, is 2.6 times more likely to leave as the neutral employee.” Not feeling appreciated was the second-ranked reason people wanted to leave their jobs.

The adage “you don’t quit a job, you quit a manager” holds true. Those who felt they had a poor relationship with their manager are far more likely to quit than those who are neutral on that topic. Someone with an M.B.A. is also more likely to leave a job than a Ph.D or M.D. Those with Bachelor’s degrees or a J.D. are neutral.

Age also plays a role. Those longer in the tooth are far more likely to stay in a job than their junior counterparts. Those between 30- and 49-years-old are just about neutral in terms of stay/quit, and employees over 60 are far more likely to be loyal than anyone else.

Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from PayScale’s findings: the “pay process.” This is described to respondents as: “How pay is determined at my company is a fair and transparent process.” It’s not “pay versus market,” which is an employee’s salary compared to peers across the industry.

Across the board, pay process is more critical to employee happiness than pay versus market. People want to know they don’t make demonstrably less than the person in the next cubicle without cause. (It’s logical to assume that those who are considering their market value have perhaps decided to move on, anyway.)

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