11 Reasons for Leaving a Job: Most Common, What’s Appropriate?

Photo by Christina Morillo

Employee turnover is a significant issue that impacts organizations of all sizes and across every industry. A recent Forbes article outlined some surprising statistics, including the cost associated with replacing an employee who leaves their role. (Spoiler alert: It’s a third of their salary). Explore 11 of the most common reasons for leaving a job, along with what you can do as an employer to reduce turnover and support employees.

What are the Most Common Reasons for Leaving a Job?

High churn is expensive for businesses of all sizes. Check out these 11 top reasons for quitting a job to see which ones might be affecting your organization’s retention rate.

Low pay

Pew Research Center assessed a large number of people who resigned from their positions in 2021, and their findings indicated that over 60 percent left as a result of low pay. Feeling motivated to perform and stay engaged is a lot harder when an individual feels they aren’t receiving adequate compensation. With inflation on the rise, people are struggling financially more than ever, so they may seek opportunities that offer higher pay to improve their lifestyles.

Poor advancement opportunities

Although the number of people who quit over low pay is substantial, it’s actually not the top reason for quitting a job, according to the research study mentioned above. The #1 reason to quit a job is poor opportunities for advancement. Other research backs up this claim, as career development is important to employees at all levels. When someone feels like they can’t move up and achieve professional growth, they’re likely to search elsewhere for more opportunities.

Childcare challenges

Parents in the workforce may be forced to leave their positions due to childcare problems. This was especially problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic, when childcare facilities and schools were closed for months on end, leaving parents scrambling to accomplish their tasks at work while also caring for their children.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the childcare sector has experienced slower recovery than other sectors, losing more than 8 percent of its workforce. As a result, some shuttered facilities never reopened, putting strain on the industry as a whole. If parents don’t have access to consistent childcare, they may have to leave the workforce as a result.

Feeling disrespected/not valued

Not feeling valued is a real problem among today’s workers, but it’s something organizations can address internally. More than half of those surveyed by the Pew Research Center cited feeling disrespected or not valued as a reason they left their job, and over a third of that group highlighted these feelings as a significant reason for quitting.

No flexibility

As countless businesses pivoted to remote work when possible during the pandemic, many employees realized the benefits of flexibility in their work hours and location. But whether an employee was asked to return to their previous in-office schedule or never had the chance to take advantage of flexibility, they may have started looking elsewhere for work where they could have a more flexible schedule. Remote work is often a key factor in flexibility, although even offering the chance to adjust work hours based on personal needs can make a big difference.

Insignificant benefits

An employee’s overall compensation factors in both the salary and benefits they receive from their company. Of course, health and dental insurance are key factors in this equation, but other benefits include paid time off, mental health and wellness support, and paid leaves of absence. If an organization can’t support members of its workforce during their times of need, employees may look for opportunities where they do feel more supported with better benefits.


Feeling burned out is common, and it’s believed to have played a significant role in the Great Resignation. Burnout may be linked to a poor work-life balance or feeling overworked in a role. But regardless of the cause, employee burnout should be addressed on an organizational level, giving people more opportunities to take time off and providing support to individuals who have a lot of responsibility.

Poor relationship with managers

A strained relationship with a manager can make a new job feel very appealing to an employee. According to Gallup research, half of all employees have resigned from positions to get away from bad supervisors. This relationship has a significant impact on overall engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, so it’s vital to invest in ongoing leadership training to ensure positive interactions across all departments.

Company culture

Company culture is not something your organization can afford to ignore. In fact, the culture of the workplace overall was a factor in many resignations, with nearly three-quarters of people expressing their willingness to accept lower pay for a position that felt like a better cultural fit.

Investing in the company culture can make a real difference in the behaviors and attitudes of those in the workforce. Additionally, company leaders must be committed to identifying and resolving problematic behaviors and issues that create a negative overall culture.

Work isn’t satisfying

Satisfaction in a role is essential in engagement and productivity. By contrast, when an employee doesn’t feel satisfied with their work, they tend to lack fulfillment and joy. As a result, an individual is likely to look for a job where they can feel more fulfilled and excited about their responsibilities and how they contribute overall.


The physical location of a workplace can impact whether an employee chooses to stay in their role, especially when relocating for reasons other than employment. If possible, consider whether your organization can support an employee through the relocation process by offering the opportunity to work remotely.

How To Address the Reasons for Leaving a Job

As an employer, it’s up to your team to address these common reasons for leaving jobs and determine what you can do in at least some of the circumstances. Create an explanation for which areas are negotiable, such as improving the company culture, encouraging a positive work-life balance, or addressing concerns with leaders. Some circumstances, like location or lack of flexibility, may not be as easy to change, depending on the role.

When Someone Does Leave, What Should You Do?

When an employee does choose to leave, which is an inevitable part of running a business, here are steps to follow to gain as much information as possible.

  • Conduct an exit interview: Exit interviews provide valuable insights into the employee’s overall experience, including what they liked about working for the company and why they chose to leave. Not all employees will feel comfortable being completely candid in such an interview, but framing questions in a way that encourage openness can help.
  • Seriously consider the reasons given: As a leader, it’s important to give consideration to the reasons an employee gives for resigning from their position. Look into whether you can make adjustments to improve the overall experience for those who stick around.
  • Identify trends: Look for possible trends around resignation to determine whether a specific manager might be causing issues in a team or the workload is excessive in a specific department. By identifying trends and making adjustments, your organization may be able to reduce turnover in the future.
  • Address the issues: Take steps to address the concerns brought up by employees who are leaving their roles. After all, if one person feels it, they’re likely not the only one, and your business could end up with more open positions if the problem isn’t fixed.

How Employees Make the Decision to Leave a Job

As an employer, you may wonder how an employee makes the decision to leave a job. Ultimately, any reason is good enough if it helps an employee’s overall well-being. However, they may follow some or all of the following steps to reach a decision:

  • Get outside perspectives: To ensure they’re not missing something, an employee may seek external perspectives to determine whether what they’re dealing with is common in the workplace or warrants further action.
  • Discuss concerns with manager: Ideally, an employee will raise concerns with a manager before resigning. But if they feel their manager won’t make any changes or support their needs, they may leave their role after this conversation.
  • See if company can offer changes: Assessing whether an organization can accommodate a dissatisfied employee’s needs is often part of the decision-making process.

Whether an employee chooses to stick around or move on, it’s important to gain as much insight into the situation as possible. Implementing changes that benefit the workplace and improve or strengthen the culture can make a significant difference in overall employee retention and morale. Of course, turnover is one of the costs of doing business, but you don’t have to accept high rates as the norm. Instead, look for how your organization can provide better support to employees, meeting their needs to strengthen loyalty and overall satisfaction.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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