Why People Really Leave Jobs

Kai Murray
Why People Really Leave Jobs

People leave when their job isn’t enjoyable, their strengths are not being used, and they are not growing in their careers, or feel that they are not fulfilling a purpose.

So contrary to popular belief, people don’t quit a boss — they quit a job. Of course, it’s the manager who’s responsible for what that job is like!

If you want to keep your people — especially your stars — it’s time to pay more attention to how you design their work. Most companies design jobs and then slot people into them.

Therefore, when you find talented people, why not create jobs around their talents. As long as the job/role benefits the business then you have a win-win.

Skyscanner, which was set up in 2001, is Scotland’s biggest tech company and currently valued at $1.4bn. The HR team at Skyscanner carry out annual staff surveys and the most recent showed the top three staff motivators were:

  • Learn and grow personally
  • Feeling like they can make an impact
  • Achieve good work-life balance

A recent Ernst & Young survey on why people leave jobs attributes this issue to an appalling expectations gap between management and employees. This gap often stems from a perfect storm of miscommunication and mismanaged employer expectations. The result: Both employee and employer suffer the consequences of delayed employee productivity, engagement, and even worse, turnover.

Leading research company Gallup confirms that to retain talented people:

Managers need to support employees to do work they enjoy. Indeed talented managers build unique development strategies around their employees’ individual, innate talents, and make sure they are always in roles where they get to use their strengths every day.

Too often, managers don’t know enough about what work people enjoy. It spills out in exit interviews — a standard practice in every HR department is to find out why talented people are leaving and what would have convinced them to stay.

Why must we wait until they’re on their way out the door? Why don’t we design entry interviews. Some readers may believe completing a behavioural based interview as part of the hiring process will give them this information, however behaviours can and do change depending on the environment.

So as part of onboarding new hires, managers can find out more about how they have been able to utilise their talents in the new role and where they could see their talents being utilised more effectively. Armed with that knowledge, managers can construct more appealing roles from the start.

People leave jobs, and it’s up to managers to design jobs that are too good to leave. Great bosses are barriers or shields— they protect their employees. They must also open doors to meaningful tasks and learning opportunities — they enable their people to be energized by their projects, to perform at their best, and to move forward professionally without having to step backwards at home.

When you have a Manager who cares about your happiness and your success, your career and your life, you end up with a better job, and then it becomes hard to imagine working anywhere else.

Stay tuned for more blogs and podcasts on Navigating Change in Uncertain Times over the coming year as we help leaders build business resilience with agility and speed.

Kai Murray