Job dissatisfaction main driver for resignations, not bad managers: HR survey shows

Engel Schmidl /

Businesses need to ignore the myth that employees resign because of personal issues alone and focus on the real motivations for leaving a job – a lack of training, motivation and challenges.

The finding comes as part of a new survey conducted by Insync, which questioned more than 11,000 respondents from 40 different organisations, and also reveals businesses have the power to change 80% of staff turnover with the right techniques.

The survey claims businesses can save $280,000 per year for every 100 staff they employee by reducing turnover by just 5%, assuming an average salary of $75,000.

“There’s been this myth that employees often leave their boss, not their employer, and we’ve heard that many times,” Insync chief executive Nicholas Barnett told SmartCompany this morning.

“But we’ve wanted to dig a little bit deeper, to look at what an employee says are important reasons around their resignation. When we do that, we find something else.”

The survey is an important reminder for businesses, especially during a low-growth economic cycle when employee retention can be a frustrating impediment to growth.

The main reasons for leaving were cited as lack of job satisfaction at 37%, lack of career opportunities at 35%, a better job offer at 34%, and personal reasons at 33%. The reasons are mostly the same between genders, although 47% of women cited work-life balance as a major motivator, compared to just 40% of men.

Gen-Y placed the biggest emphasis on career growth, and were also more likely to choose work-life balance as a motivator for leaving a position.

Broken down into sectors, the results become more interesting. Those in the retail sector cited a better job offer as a main reason for leaving, followed by personal reasons at 38%. In engineering, personal reasons didn’t even show up in the top five factors, while it was cited as fifth-most important in the financial sector at 35%.

But Barnett says the results play an important role in showing why personal factors aren’t the sole reason an employee leaves a job:

  • One in six employees leaves primarily due to a lack of job enrichment.
  • Only 4.1% actually leave solely because of personal reasons: “This indicates that only a very small minority leave purely because of a poor manager, dispelling the common myth that people leave managers not organisations.”
  • More than a third of employees, 36%, leave because of a combination of internal factors.

Barnett says the results are clear that stopping turnover is well within an organisation’s capability.

“Our research has found employees leave primarily due to the job itself and not for reasons such as pay and conditions or relationships with managers or peers. If a job is inherently unfulfilling or unsatisfying it’s highly likely that employees will look elsewhere for other opportunities, no matter what incentives are in place.”

This means businesses need to do all they can to ensure employees are challenged as often as possible – and have as much flexibility as possible as well.

Barnett says given the emphasis on work-life balance in the survey, businesses need to make sure they provide enough flexibility, especially for parents, but also for male employees.

“Although men highly value job and structural factors such as career opportunities, professional development and job satisfaction, home life reasons are also on their radar when it comes to deciding to leave their employer,” said Barnett.

A recent survey revealed the importance of providing flexibility for both male and female employees, especially in ensuring productivity remains high.




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