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Why do people quit their jobs?

Published: Thursday 18th February 2021

Young worker leaving an office after quitting why do people quit their job

People quit their jobs for many reasons. People will always come and go, but sometimes you can control how and why. If you have great employees you don’t want to lose, there may be things you can do. 

Here are the reasons why people quit their jobs.


This one shouldn’t be a surprise. A study conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 20% of American workers either experience or witness bullying in the workplace. According to the institute, workplace bullying is “repeated, harmful mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that takes the form of:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Behaviors that are threatening, intimidating, or humiliating
  • Coworker/career/workplace sabotage

Bullying can be overt or covert, and most often causes mental and physical distress in the victim. 

Worried there might be a bully in your midst? You can take steps to prevent workplace bullying to keep your employees around for the long haul. 

Relationship with the boss

Young man with box of belongings after resigning

According to DDI’s Frontline Leader Project, 57% of employees leave their job because of a bad boss. Stephanie Neal, director of DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER), says that, “[how] leaders manage their emotions and how they make other people feel are the strongest drivers of talent retention.”

How someone is managed can be key to how they feel about their job. If a manager isn’t handling someone in the right way, is constantly stressed and taking it out on their team, or if there is tension between manager and employee, this can cause rifts that are difficult to repair. Make sure your managers foster healthy and respectful relationships with those they manage.

Low pay

It’s true. Low pay is the #1 reason why people quit their jobs. This is true across generations and industries. Low pay could mean that their existing salary is too low, or that they received a better offer from another employer. You may wonder why someone would take a job if they think they pay is too low. People may take low paid jobs because they are the only option, or because they have hope that pay will rise in the future.

Lack of appreciation

It’s long been known that showing employee appreciation is one of the best ways of keeping them around. Your employees work hard for you, and they want to be recognized for that. There are all sorts of fun and unique ways you can show appreciation to your employees. A small word of thanks and encouragement can go a long way. 

Relationships with coworkers

It’s one thing to have a good boss. It’s another thing to have good relationships with other people in the office. A study conducted by Gallup found that a person’s happiness in their job is determined by whether they have a best friend at work. If your employees are isolated and unable to build good relationships with those around them, it can be a warning sign that they’re ready to move on. Take some time to implement some strategies that will foster close, meaningful relationships between your employees.

Bad work-life balance

Worker writing I quit on a piece of paper

Company time is company time, but personal time is personal time, too. But with many people now working remotely, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ‘switch off’. More and more people are considering quitting their job in order to maintain a good work-life balance. Ensure that you maintain a good work-life balance in your office to maintain your employee retention. 

Clash with company culture

While the above examples are quite prosaic, some people leave jobs for reasons that are harder to define. A good example of this is a clash of the company’s culture. 73% of employees have left a job in the past because they were a poor cultural fit. If your company culture is all about profit, growth, and hitting targets, and you just hired someone who wants their role to have an impact on the wider world, that is a problem. Employees that join companies they don’t respect won’t stick around. 

No career growth

Most people have high hopes for their jobs. They hope that they will lead to something, whether that’s a promotion, more pay, more connections, or something else. Most people need a sense of hope in order to stick with something. But if there’s nothing on the horizon, it can really hamper someone’s investment in their job. It’s no wonder that 30% of people surveyed by Gallup cited no career growth as a reason they left their jobs. If you want your employees to stick around, give them something to stay for, whether that’s opportunities for growth, training courses, or promotions. 


Young business man quitting his job why do people quit their jobs

People want to know that what they do matters. They want to see that their actions and efforts have a tangible effect on their company and the world. So it’s surprising that 9 out of 10 of people surveyed are willing to take a pay cut if it means doing more meaningful work. Not everyone can feed the hungry and rescue vulnerable animals, but most need some reason to get out of bed in the morning other than their paycheck. 

Micromanagement and surveillance

Micromanagement has always been a boss no-no, but in this age of digital surveillance, it takes on a whole new dimension. There are many jobs that monitor their employees using software to track their performance and movements, and penalizing them if they step out of line. This is said to be done to increase efficiency, but these jobs usually have very high turnover rates. However, a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that monitoring employees can erode trust and end up being counterproductive. If you erode an employee’s trust, they’ll start to look elsewhere for work. 


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