Here’s Why So Many Good Employees Are Looking to Leave This Year

According to a recent study by CareerBuilder, 1 out of every 5 workers is planning to leave their job in 2014.

That’s a lot of disengaged employees.

After digging into the data, you find it’s not because these workers want a higher salary. Even though salary is important and makes up a large percentage (66 percent) of why people said they are dissatisfied with their current job, respondents were just as likely to attribute dissatisfaction to not feeling valued (65 percent).

Why employees are leaving their jobs

When you look at the factors that make people want to leave their job, we should be focused less at big expensive enterprise-wide programs and more at the quality of interactions and communication between managers, supervisors, employees and teams.

Recognition, appreciation, and thanking someone for their contribution is not a million dollar HR program.

In addition to general dissatisfaction, here are the other most frequently cited reasons for leaving a job 2014: –

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  • Job dissatisfaction — 54 percent;
  • No growth — 45 percent;
  • Work-life balance — 39 percent;
  • Underemployed — 39 percent;
  • Stress — 39 percent;
  • Don’t like boss — 37 percent.

Ways to mitigate the risk of departures

You can’t give everyone a 50 percent salary raise, but there are many inexpensive ways to mitigate the risk of people leaving:

  • Recognize. Appreciate. Thank people for their work.
  • Ask people what’s important to them. Sally may value autonomy and a promotion but Scott would love nothing more than to start his day at 9 am instead of 8 am.
  • Help people see what their career progression could look like. What skills do they need to develop? What lateral job moves are possible?
  • Communicate what’s ahead. How does their work fit into the direction or goals of the business?
  • Understand where and why people are stressed or overloaded. Stress may be the nature of the job but sometimes walking someone through where to delegate or how to re-prioritize can make a significant difference in how they approach their work.
  • Take a hard look at your managers and supervisors. Great pay, interesting work and a clear career path holds little meaning when you have a horrible boss to deal with every day.

Yes, 20 percent of your employees say they plan to leave their job this year.

Are you giving them a good reason to stay.

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blo

Marta Steele is a Partner at PeopleResults and a change and human resources consultant, having served in diverse internal and external consulting roles for over 16 years. Prior to People Results, Marta was affiliated with Accenture where she held leadership positions in a number of successful large-scale people initiatives. Connect with her on Twitter at or via email at


23 Comments on “Here’s Why So Many Good Employees Are Looking to Leave This Year

  1. Marta – I love that you’ve written about this and offer great tips and insights. Too often HR gets caught up in developing “programs” & neglect the basics of helping people managers focus on what makes the biggest difference with their employees.

  2. Well done, Marta. You present practical, low-cost solutions here that everyone should be implementing, not just HR.

  3. It is only of importance if the 20% who plan to leave are the in the top 25%. It would be wonderful if the 20% who plan to leave are in the bottom 50%.

    1. Here is a perfect example why employees want to leave their companies…remember you hired these guys in the first place,,,what does that say about you

    2. Mel, there certainly are employees who aren’t a good fit and would be better off somewhere else. But what strikes me about that 20% is that there are a lot of great and just fine employees in that number. The turnover costs alone — yikes!

  4. Marta, thanks for the practical solutions that we all can do with very little HR support, cost or intervention. Treat people with respect – understand where they’re coming from and where they want to go – and appreciate their diversity.

  5. Interesting article – and comments! Though, I think part of what the article is getting at, is that a certain number of this “bottom 50%” mentioned by another commenter may only be at the bottom due to lack of engagement. You might think it’s all well and good if these folks just get the heck out of your company, but if there are always half of your employees that you would describe as underperforming, it might be worth looking at what steps might be taken to increase engagement on the company’s side. Don’t get me wrong – engagement is a two-way street. There will always be nay-sayers and foot-draggers who haven’t yet realized that a significant portion of their own happiness rests on their own shoulders, and is largely based on their own perceptions of their own situations. You can’t control that, nor should you try. However, if you remind them that there were good reasons that they were hired, and that if they’re struggling with something, there is help available, you might find a reduction in the population of those at the bottom – and it won’t be because they up and quit.
    Cheers! Lisa Chatroop, Good.Co

    1. Thanks for your comments, Lisa. Of the 20% leaving, some may be the employees that aren’t performing, some average performers, some top performers. Your perspective is an interesting one — looking at what’s in our control as managers and leaders. And there really is a lot within our control to keep employees engaged.

  6. This article is so true, about half of the people in my company have left due to no employment growth or any type of recognition.

    1. I’ve seen this over and over, Jake. It makes me wonder if the top leaders “feel the pain” and understand what’s at the root of people leaving.

  7. I doubt that many of the 20% who’ve decided to move on are currently in the bottom 50% of their companies. Moving on demonstrates initiative and courage, traits not usually found in bottom performers.

  8. Article states the data finds that people leave based on all the above but “Not because employees want a higher salary”? FYI, if a current employer is willing to match a higher salary offer that pays more with better job security, then all of those above reasons can always be offset and justified with more $$$$. This article is misleading because if an employee is happy and satisfied with all the cited above reasons, but still not paid enough, then that person will pursue other organizations regardless of what their current position is. Money talks.

    1. I agree that salary is an important factor for why people leave or stay.

      I’m sure there are examples of people who experience job dissatisfaction, no growth, little work-life balance, underemployment, stress, a bad boss, but stick around because of salary. But the data doesn’t support that.

      1. I agree all the things cited in your article are very important. But I also agree with Kevin and Kyle about the salary/wage is one of the biggest reasons why good employees looking to leave. As you say “But the data doesn’t support that”, it is because lots of people didn’t dare to tell the truth when asked or filled the survey because if they said so, they would be thought of as greedy and would be noticed by their employer.

        If your employer asked: “What would motivate you most to do your work?” And you answered: “Money” or more delicate, “High salary”. You would be disliked right away and in trouble. No employer wants to hear that.

        Imagine if your workload is about the same or much more to compare to somewhere else, and somewhere else pays better. Would you stay there if you could get the job somewhere else?

    2. I agree with Kevin too. After all, what do people work for? The first answer is money. If a company provides all the management support, appreciation, recognition, etc… but the pay is low, eventually employees will leave when they find a job somewhere else with higher pay. All those support, appreciation and recognition (certificates) are just words and papers. Nobody would want to work hard for less money (to compare with other company would offer) and lots of certificates to frame and hang them on the wall.

  9. The $ gives you a reason for all of the other stuff they do wrong. Bad boss overrides everything though!

    1. You are correct. That’s why I resigned. I loved my job, but hated my boss. She was a manipulating bully. She had no idea how I did my job. I was the top performer in the company and at the highest margin of profit. I left six months ago and they still haven’t found my replacement.

      1. How about you expose that company and bully on her anonymously so word can come about? There is the law of karma now.

  10. I notice that despite all professionalism and civility acknowledging everybody, is it an issue when one person isn’t joke around the same way by another person in the team who jokes around with everyone else?

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