6 Reasons Why Employees Quit Their Jobs

5 min. read

When an employee decides to leave, it's vital to take a look at the reasons that can explain the departure.

Employees leave their jobs for all kinds of reasons: it could be because of bad leadership, a lack of recognition, unethical business practices, a lengthy commute – the possibilities are endless.

There are, however, some common factors that increase the likelihood that an employee will resign. Below are an explanation of each factor:

1. Bad Bosses

We have all heard the phrase, “People leave managers, not companies,” and recent research suggests that there is truth to the saying, with about half of professionals surveyed (49 percent) having quit a job due to a bad boss. Everyone has a horror story about a difficult manager, and it’s clear that bad bosses can strongly impact employee retention.

Characteristics of a bad boss include:

  • Bullying
  • Being overly critical, nasty, or verbally abusive
  • Harassing employees or physically abusing them
  • Failing to provide clear directions
  • Not giving regular, constructive feedback
  • Ignoring staff contributions
  • Failing to set targets that enable employees to track progression

A bad boss is the number one reason why employees quit their job. If the employee-boss relationship is not a positive one, it can be extremely difficult for the employee to thrive in the workplace. They will be drained and unmotivated and if the situation continues, day in and day out, this will impact their engagement, confidence, and commitment to the company.

2. Feeling overworked and overwhelmed

In the modern workplace, stress and the feeling of overwhelm come with most jobs, but if work-related stress goes ignored the risk of burnout increases. Being overworked can burn out the best of employees. In fact, it’s often the best employees, the most committed, capable, and the most trusted, who are overburdened with work the most.

On an organizational level burnout at work can result in a decrease in employees’ job performance and job satisfaction, reduced commitment to the company, and an increase in absenteeism. On a personal level, occupational burnout can result in severe health issues that can be difficult to overcome.

If an employee is taking on more and more work, without recognition, appreciation, or promotion, they are likely to feel taken for granted. This can lead them to look for a better place to work with a healthier, more manageable workload.

3. Culture misfit

When employees ask themselves the question, “Do I love my job?” — one of the biggest factors that determine their answer is not pay or benefits — it’s workplace culture.

The term ‘culture fit’ refers to how each employee’s personal set of values, mission, and goals align with the values, mission, and goals of the organization. It’s only natural for an employee to want to belong to a group of like-minded people, to work for someone they admire, and to contribute to an effort that aligns with their own beliefs.

Whether or not an employee stays at an organization is hugely influenced by workplace culture and how well they ‘fit in.’

Common signs of an employee experiencing culture misfit:

  • Opting out of optional company activities
  • High rates of absenteeism
  • Not embracing company cultural values.
  • Consistently underperforming or not meeting targets
  • Showing frustration when faced with rules, processes, or structures that don’t bother other employees
  • Continually making choices that don’t align with company goals
  • Adding to feelings of toxicity in the workplace
  • An ability to align with the organization’s moral or ethical standards

When employees experience culture misfit at work, they lack a feeling of belonging which can severely impact their performance and lead to disengagement. This can influence their decision to seek work elsewhere.

4. Not feeling valued or recognized

One of the top reasons why employees quit their jobs is not receiving recognition at work. A lack of recognition leads employees to rethink their current employment and go looking for new opportunities. The great resignation is currently in full swing and people aren’t staying in positions where they don’t feel valued. Employees understand the importance of work-life balance and they are looking for jobs that make them feel like they are doing something that matters, or at the very least that they don't feel taken for granted.

Everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated when a job is done well. It’s completely natural to be motivated by recognition and acknowledgment. If a person’s efforts go unappreciated or ignored, especially if they have worked extra hard to produce high-quality results, they are going to feel deflated and dispirited.

Simply receiving a paycheck is not enough to keep your employees happy and productive. Recognizing your employees shows your humanity and illustrates that they are an important part of the organization, which in turn can increase their commitment to their role.

5. Inadequate Compensation and Benefits

There is no denying that a person’s primary reason for employment is getting paid. How much a person is paid is not just a number, it is a reflection of how valued an employee feels by their employer.

Compensation and benefits play a significant role in an employee’s desire to leave their job and non-competitive pay can be a deal-breaker. If you don’t communicate to your employees that they are being paid fairly compared to their talent market, they may start looking for a better-paid position.

Bonuses, raises, and above-average salaries are the most compelling reasons for a person to stay in their job long-term. This is not always sustainable but is the most simple way to improve employee retention.

6. Boredom

It would be a wonderful world if none of us ever got bored at work. The fact is, we spend five days a week, month upon month, year in and year out at work, and it can get tedious at times. That’s why it’s so important that the work we do, whatever it might be, is meaningful and satisfying.

People want a job that they feel they are good at, that challenges them, compliments their skillset, and makes them feel that they are contributing and making a worthwhile difference in some way. If they are spending their day clock-watching, willing the time to pass, they are not fulfilling their true potential.