5 Reasons Your Employees Leave (And 1 Big Reason They Stay)

There’s a lot of disagreement about why employees leave their jobs. Is it because they don’t have the chance to grow? A lack of work/life balance? Not being paid enough?

Many of the statistics cited in this article will disagree on what the biggest reason is (since survey responses change depending on where, when, and how a survey is applied). Regardless of ranking, however, it’s clear that the following reasons are why your employees get fed up and leave. Keep these top reasons in mind the next time you’re recruiting, handing out a performance review, or wondering why a top performer took off.


The inability to prove yourself in a higher role (and maybe earn a little more money along the way) is one of the biggest reasons employees leave. Usually, this is because it’s easier to look for a higher position available somewhere else than a similar position where you currently work. This is caused by a lack of internal mobility. The solution, then, is a better system of mobility within your company, which has been shown to increase employee retainment. No way to effect internal mobility? Then attempt to challenge workers. People (in general) need a new challenge roughly once per quarter. Now’s a great time to nab that marketing pro to help you with an employer branding campaign!

Work/Life Balance

You might be happy with how you’re advancing at a company, but if you’re working 70-hour weeks on the regular, you’re going to get burned out. Americans in particular are more prone to work nights and weekends than other developed countries, with 29% of us working weekends and 26% working nights. As workloads pile up, employees get fed up with being able to do the things they want outside work, see their families, and take breaks from an exhausting schedule.

Cutting back those hours by focusing on work done instead of hours worked can go a long way to keep employees happy. Concerned your employees will start turning in poor work without the oversight of management? Don’t be. Autonomous employees tend to prove themselves very quickly, while those who can’t handle the work from home grind do so as well.


In early 2014, BP employees revealed that the company was cutting back employee pensions by up to 75%, and several long-standing employees left because of this. Even if employees like their job, if they feel they’re being cheated out of what’s theirs, they won’t want to work at all. If you have to cut things like pensions or reduce bonuses, be prepared for some turnover.

The tricky job of HR is to facilitate tough situations like the one cited above when the executive board or the CEO is trying to save the big bucks. Consistency in bonuses or benefits is the best way to ensure your people don’t get the perception of being cheated.


There doesn’t have to be a party every time a worker gets their time sheets in before deadline or when they manage to fix the water cooler without outside help. But recognizing when someone’s done a great job goes a long way toward keeping them happy at a job. Companies with active recognition programs have 23% less employee turnover than those without them. Knowing that you’re valued where you work can also make you more productive, so there’s little reason not to start saying thank you to your workers! This can be public (like in meetings or with reward programs and events) or it can be private (via email or during performance reviews and one-on-ones).

Horrible Bosses

Another top reason employees leave their jobs is because of their awful bosses. In 2014, trust issues with a boss was one of the most oft-cited deal breakers for employees. While you can’t demand your employees like you, you can command their respect by trusting them, appreciating their work, letting them make controlled mistakes and of course, avoiding verbal abuse and poor treatment altogether. Again, consistency is key here. Treat your employees as equitably as possible and avoid favoritism at work.

Why Stay?

This may not have been clear when we covered the reasons to leave, but for employees to stay, they need to be happy. The biggest reason employees stay at their job is because they love the people they work with. Use learning management systems to help them get a better sense of their role within the company, and find you who they work (and get along) with best. Offer promotional opportunities when you can and be consistent in both treatment and compensation. If you’re working hard at all of the above, your turnover will be lower in the long run.

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