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Why Do People (Really) Leave Jobs?

Why Do People (Really) Leave Jobs?


I have supported hundreds of businesses and candidates over the years and there are a few key reasons people leave their jobs. Sometimes these reasons are outside of an employers control, however 90% of the time, in my experience, the genuine reason for someone moving on from a business isn’t fully shared with the employer. Despite work being work etc., things can feel too personal, and people evade being upfront to save their bosses feelings.  

It is important to be mindful of why people really chose to move on and to recognise trends across your business to minimise losing good talent. It is also important to recognise why people are truly leaving your team to make sure you are making the correct match from the offset. 


1. Micromanagement  

People hate being micromanaged and it is a top reason we receive for candidates leaving a role. People like to feel in control, and having someone breathing down your neck isn’t conducive to happiness within a role. It must be recognised that some candidates need more support than others to perform within a role, and sometimes this reason can be an underlying way of someone telling you they don’t like or aren’t able to take direction. Whatever the situation, micromanaging employees doesn’t work long-term. 

Solution – If someone needs extra direction/management, explain clearly why you are providing it. Set clear objectives so that the person knows when these are achieved, they will get greater autonomy. Always have in mind that micromanaging someone long-term does not work for either party regardless of their weaknesses or strengths, so set clear timescales regarding the next steps rather than letting someone sit and feel unhappy. 


2. Bad Vibes 

Yes, the highly technical recruitment term ‘bad vibes’ sums up a key reason why people leave businesses. Some places just have a terrible environment and don’t realise that the main reason people move on is because they’re miserable and walking on eggshells. Typically this tends to happen in smaller businesses where 1 or 2 difficult personalities take over – and usually they own the place which causes the most difficulty. But larger businesses absolutely experience this too. Candidates are virtually never honest about this with an employer, but the signs are always there. People working silently and avoiding contact with others, high levels of sickness and just a general apathy towards work. If someone is highly skilled and capable but is doing poor work/displaying a negative attitude, it isn’t always their problem and it might be yours.  


Solution – Introspection. Ask yourself the question – is it me? I have visited businesses which clearly have a terrible environment and they instantly blame the whole team and take no accountability. Just because you have a successful business doesn’t mean you have a positive culture. The solution is to take ownership about what has gone wrong and have open conversations with your team about the importance of culture. Always approach situations with colleagues/employees with empathy and be willing to take feedback onboard, even if it is difficult. As hard as it is to hear you are doing things wrong, there is always an opportunity to make things better. 


3. No Progression

It can be a red flag if someone wants to move on within 3 months because there aren’t progression opportunities, but many candidates move on because there are no chances of progression within a team. Some businesses have a great culture and are high-performing but have a flat managerial structure which doesn’t lend itself to progression. There are some fantastic people who don’t want to progress and are excellent at their role and happy where they are, but these people are the exception rather than the rule. If people feel like there is nowhere to go, you run the risk of losing your best employees. 

Solution – Recognise that adding extra layers to a business, with the right people in place, will drive business growth. The short-term pain of replacing someone excellent to move them up will be much less than having to replace that person altogether. Ensure you are having commercially focused conversations with the team so that they can identify areas in which they can drive revenue or make savings to enhance business performance. If employees understand the wider business objectives and the bigger picture, they can visualise success. If you as a business leader can’t see where these extra layers/roles could sit within your organisation, then there is a strong chance you need external support or to re-look at the business’s strategy – because if you are doing things right, there should always be opportunities to grow. 


4.Passive Management  

The opposite of micromanagement and equally as damaging to employee morale. A Manager who takes no interest in your work/development but is constantly only looking for the negative is someone who people run a mile from. There will be employees who stick with a passive manager for longer than they should because they enjoy an easy ride and like not being supervised, however this isn’t positive for their long-term development or the success of the business. Good employees want someone who wants them to succeed and is keen to apply their knowledge to achieve this. 

Solution – Improve your management by observing how they are managing their team. Do they often not know what is happening within the team? Are they unable to provide details of their teams development plans or areas for improvement? An apathetic and passive leadership style doesn’t work for high growth businesses or within high performing teams. So, if this is how you visualise your business, it is important that your management team is on board. 


5. Salary

The main reason 99% of people work is to afford their life outside of work and salary is a huge motivating factor in people exploring new options. Being underpaid leads to feeling undervalued, and there is no one less productive that an undervalued employee. Ensuring you are paying people what they are due is essential to long-term business success. 

Solution – Ask a recruitment partner for salary benchmarking and ensure you are raising salaries appropriately and within timeframes set by the current economic climate. For example, it is no good raising a teams salary by a couple of thousand when you were already behind expectation in the first place. It is also important to life salaries without people constantly having to ask you. Money is something people hate talking about, therefore removing any barriers around this is essential. Businesses must perform commercially and everyone knows there isn’t an unlimited pot of money, but the cost long-term of not paying people correctly is huge. 

6. Lack of flexibility/hybrid working  

In the post-pandemic world this is the key benefit most candidates are looking for. Whether you like it or not, candidates want greater flexibility and chances to work from home. Out of all the reasons above, this is one which people are becoming increasingly more open about. 

Solution – Allow people greater flexibility to gain a greater competitive advantage. If someone is good at their job and worth having in a team and within an admin/office-based role, there is usually little reason for the person not being allowed to work hybrid other than it is inconvenient for the business. Not every job can facilitate this and if it can’t be facilitated offering additional benefits may be the best option to ensure employee satisfaction. 

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