Why Employees Are Leaving (And How to Get Them to Stay)

  • Posted by: Emma Berdanier |
  • 8/7/19 |
  • 12:00 AM
Why Employees Are Leaving (And How to Get Them to Stay)

It’s no secret that employees leave the companies they work for, whether they’ve been working there for three years or for just two weeks. Employee turnover is a constant in the job market, and as of 2018 it’s at the highest rate it’s been at in 10 years. This increase in turnover is a detriment to employers, as it’s expensive to continue replacing employees and training new hires to do work you already had someone else trained to do.

While employees leave for a myriad of reasons, these reasons aren’t always the ones you’d expect. Not everyone leaves for a bigger salary, in fact many don’t. Below is a list of reasons why employees are leaving, and how you can change your office environment and work culture to retain these employees for the long run.

Why They Leave:


  • 25% leave for a higher salary
  • 16% leave because they’re unhappy
  • 14% leave because of the company’s mission
  • 7% leave for a promotion
  • 38% leave for reasons beyond a company's control (i.e. relocation)

How They Choose a New Employer:


  • 27% choose an employer who gives them the opportunity to do more meaningful work
  • 17% choose an employer who gives them more responsibilities
  • 16% choose an employer for increased salary
  • 11% choose an employer for the workplace culture
  • 6% choose an employer based on the benefits package offered
  • 23% choose an employer for reasons beyond a company's control (i.e. company size)


As you can see from this data, employees don’t always leave for a higher salary. Many employees want changes in their jobs that will give them increased satisfaction, rather than an increase in pay. This increase in satisfaction typically comes from two sources: the workplace culture and the company’s mission. Having a mission that aligns with your employees’ values is a strong way of retaining those employees and attracting new ones.

This is especially true of Millennials and Gen X employees, who tend to choose a new job based on the opportunity to do meaningful work that aligns with their values far more often than Baby Boomers do. Baby Boomers are still of the mindset of choosing work based on salary alone, but the trend among younger employees stands strong – employees want to do meaningful work.

The Solution:

So, what can you do to ensure a high rate of employee retention when salary isn’t always the leading factor in someone leaving their role? There are quite a few options, many of which involve enacting a shift in your workplace culture to better cater to your employees’ desires.

  • Rethink your company mission. Is it strong enough and does the work you’re doing center around it? Having a strong mission with some sort of goal attached to it will make your employees feel like the work they’re doing is meaningful, and like they’re working towards something greater rather than just punching in a timecard.
  • Tailor your rewards package to your target employees. Understand what these employees care about, whether it’s having a flexible schedule and more PTO or having the opportunity to volunteer for organizations that match your company’s mission on company time. Centering your rewards package around your mission will also give employees a reason to think the work they’re doing is meaningful.
  • Ensure that your compensation aligns with your company mission. Give out compensation based upon things that your company prioritizes in its mission. Is open communication important to your company’s mission? Show your employees that you’re focused on that mission by awarding compensation based upon employees’ ability to meet the standards of your mission.


  • “Why They ‘Quit You’ – Top Reasons an Employee Leaves.” PayScale, 2019, https://www.payscale.com/data/why-people-quit-their-jobs. Accessed 12 July 2019.
  • Boss, Jeff. “Employee Turnover Is The Highest It’s Been In 10 Years. Here’s What To Do About It.” Forbes, 26 Feb. 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2018/02/26/employee-turnover-is-the-highest-its-been-in-10-years-heres-what-to-do-about-it/#49216abd478c. Accessed 15 July 2019.
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