Why Do Employees Quit? 6 Reasons Employees Consider Leaving Their Jobs

As a business owner, you know that turnover is expensive and stressful. Every employee is an investment for your business, and it can be difficult to see one go. Plus, the process of recruiting and hiring a replacement can take your attention away from running your business, resulting in lost productivity and revenue.

If you’re in an industry that’s known for turnover, the problem is even worse because it can lower the morale of the employees that stick around, increasing the likelihood of even more turnover

It’s no wonder that two big questions on every employer’s mind are:

1. Why do employees quit? 

2. How can I keep my employees around? 

At CareerPlug, employee retention is at the forefront of our minds too. Every year, we conduct research to learn from real job seekers and employees as part of our Candidate Experience Report. This research includes asking workers in various industries what makes them want to leave their current job to see what employers could be doing better.

Let’s take a look at the data, so that you can be better equipped to retain the members of your team. 

Why employees leave their jobs 

Let’s start by highlighting the amount of people we surveyed that have recently considered leaving their job. Out of our 500 participants, over 50% said they have thought about leaving their current job in the last twelve months. 

employees that have considered quitting

This is huge! And the trend can be seen across industries. For example, 55% of employees in Hospitality said they’ve considered leaving their job in the last 12 months. 62% of employees who work in Insurance & Financial Services said they have considered leaving their current job in the last year as well. 

So why is it that half of our survey participants have considered leaving their job? Here are the numbers: 

Reasons employees leave their jobs

Let’s break down each of these reasons in further detail to understand what you can do as an employer to retain your current team. 

1. Dissatisfaction with current compensation 

It’s no surprise that not being satisfied with current salary or hourly pay is a big reason that employees would consider leaving their job. Labor is currently in high demand, so many employees/job seekers have more leverage than ever before when it comes to demanding better pay. This shift in power has influenced many employees to quit in search of higher wages. 

Side note: It’s worth pointing out that we saw some variations in survey answers based on gender. 40% of women claim to not be satisfied with their salary/hourly pay (vs 20% of men). Responses from men were spread out pretty evenly. 

2. No benefits 

16% of our respondents cited their employer not offering benefits as the reason they’ve considered leaving. Once again, with labor in such high demand, employees are seeking out jobs that offer them more. 

Health insurance, 401k, and other employee perks are becoming more commonplace, and employers that get more competitive or creative with employee benefits will likely have better luck both recruiting and retaining employees. 

3. COVID safety concerns 

Safety concerns over COVID-19 still plague many job seekers. A U.S. Census survey conducted in March 2021 found that 4.2 million adults are not working because they are worried about getting or spreading COVID-19. These concerns have caused employees to consider leaving the workforce entirely or to look for a job in a different industry. 

4. Not enough flexibility 

13% of workers say that the desire for a more flexible work schedule made them consider leaving their job in the last year. Additionally, when we asked job seekers what influenced their decision to apply to a company, “advertised a flexible work schedule” was the most popular response among women. 

The pandemic caused many people to reevaluate their work/life balance, so it would seem that flexibility within the workplace is a desire that’s here to stay. One survey by FlexJobs found that 70% of millennials have left or considered leaving a job because it lacked flexible work options, and about half of older workers report the same. 

5. The work environment 

A work environment that you like is obviously important for job satisfaction, and disliking the work environment seems to be an influence on why employees quit. 

It’s also worth pointing out that the importance of the work environment may have a bigger impact in certain industries. For example, 98% of job seekers who work in Insurance & Financial Services rated “atmosphere of the workplace” as important in influencing their decision to accept a job offer. This is significant because people are currently retiring from the insurance industry at a high rate, so insurance businesses need to make a strong effort to appeal to job seekers who are earlier in their careers. One way to do that is by creating an appealing and inviting work environment.

Importance of work environment in insurance industry

6. Conflicting responsibilities

Sometimes the reason an employee leaves has little to do with the actual job itself, rather outside circumstances play a big role. Caring for a sick family member, the addition of a new child, or other care responsibilities can also lead to employees quitting. 

Other factors to consider

Though our research gives us great insight into some of the main reasons employees quit, there are still plenty of other factors to consider. General job stress and lack of mental health support may cause employees to take time away from a role, especially in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Changes at home, a move to a new city, or the desire for growth all may lead employees to seek out something new. 

Many times, there is not one simple reason for an employee quitting their job, rather many factors coming together that leads them to the decision to resign. As an employer, you can’t control everything, but you can take steps to mitigate the most common reasons that employees consider quitting. 

Keeping employees around 

Instead of focusing on the things that make employees leave, think in terms of what makes employees want to stay. Get to know the needs of your employees and act accordingly. 

Provide employees with truly competitive compensation and offer raises or bonuses when you can. Employee perks and benefits can go a long way in making employees feel appreciated and secure. Flexibility and autonomy are more desired than ever in this pandemic workscape. 

When all is said and done, what employees are asking employers for is actually pretty simple: Be a great place to work.

The 2021 Candidate Experience Report

Read more original research about what job seekers and employees are looking for during the hiring process and beyond.


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Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

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