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Why they quit you

June 7, 2019

By Heather Nezich, courtesy SBAM Approved Partner ASE

A recent study by Payscale entitled Why They Quit You shows the top reason employees leave their job is a bigger paycheck. However, when employees were asked what attracted them to a new position, ‘the opportunity to do more meaningful work’ was the most common response.

The research shows a surprising disconnect between the motivations for workers to leave their current job and the motivations for accepting a new position. While pay is critical for employers focused on retaining their best people, pay alone may not enough to attract the best people who may be weighing all their options in the increasingly competitive talent market.

The research is consistent with findings from a Gallup poll which showed that a mere 13% of employees found their jobs meaningful. Here are some additional findings from the Why They Quit You report:

More pay is the primary driver for quitting – 25% of respondents stated higher pay was the reason they sought new job, followed by 16% of employees stating: “I’m unhappy at my current organization.” 

The promise of meaningful work is what attracts new employees – When asked what attracted employees to another organization, 27% cited the opportunity to do more meaningful work, 17% said increased responsibilities, and ironically only 16% said increased pay was the primary driver.

Women more likely to quit for flexibility – Women are 11% more likely than men to quit their job in search of a more flexible work environment, relative to other reasons. This is consistent with gender norms where women are more likely to take time away from work to care for a child or other family member.

Millennials more likely to quit for money – Millennials are 9% more likely than Boomers to quit for more money, relative to other reasons. They are also more likely than Boomers to quit because they’re unhappy or want a promotion. However, Boomers are more likely than Millennials to quit because they want increased flexibility in their job.

Based on these survey findings, organizations need to not only provide competitive compensation but also ensure that employees find their work meaningful.  Employees are more likely to thrive and grow at work when they feel that it’s meaningful.  This is why businesses with a strong social purpose tend to perform better financially.

Leaders play a key role in helping employees to understand why their roles matter.  There are some key traits that determine a leader’s ability to make their employees’ jobs more meaningful:

  1. Curious and inquisitive – People feel more meaning from their work if they feel they are contributing to something new and are asked for their input and listened to.  Curious leaders stray away from monotony and micromanaging.
  2. Hire for values and culture fit – An employee’s personal values and the organizational values must connect.  It’s often more important to hire the candidate that fits the best culturally, rather than who has the best technical skills or experience.  When employees can connect with the organization and their co-workers, they are much more likely to feel a sense of meaning at work.
  3. Able to trust people – The fastest way to drive meaning away from any employee is to micromanage them. Micromanaging makes employees feel worthless.  When a leader trusts and empowers their employees, the employees are much more likely to thrive in their positions and feel that their work is meaningful.
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