8 Surprising Reasons Why Employees Leave

Everyone has heard one of8-Surprising-Reasons-Why-Employees-Leave those crazy quitting stories, whether a it includes a resignation written on a sheet cake, sung by a barbershop quartet, or painted on a break room wall. Even though those stories seem far removed from real life, they reveal an important truth about the workplace: we're often surprised when, how, and why an employee quits. Even top-notch managers can be caught off guard when their employees turn in a two-weeks notice. So what are our managers not understanding? What reasons for leaving are they missing?

With help from Reddit, we pulled surprising reasons why employees leave — and how to avoid those same exits in your own organization. 

The social relationships have changed.

A worker in the medical device manufacturing plant i used to work at was fired for refusing to perform a required test. As soon as he was informed of his termination one of his friends that worked there came into the office and said "He's my ride home, so i quit".

- [deleted]

A smart manager understands how employees fit into the social and functional fabric of the office. If one of the essential parts of this framework changes, don’t be surprised when an employee quits. Be aware of the unspoken non-negotiables for your employees. And feel free to ask them: Even if everything else was perfect, what reasons would force you to leave?

They can’t cope.

was on course in the military. Guy quit because he couldn't sing during Physical training. Apparently it helped him through the stresses...?

- xdiablox123

Stress is a normal part of every workplace, and managers should empower employees to deal with it in a way that works well for them (within reason). A pair of headphones, a day off, an extended lunch, a walk outside...whatever their coping mechanisms may be, encourage employees to put them to use. Also be aware that employees might not yet have found a coping device that works. Share your and others' experiences dealing with the job's stresses, and help them discover a solution.

They can’t stand the physical environment.

My cousin, bless his heart, quit working as a line cook when he was like 19 because it was too hot in the kitchen. The best part? He was in school training to become a firefighter at the same time. We still don't let him live it down.

- glittersharkboss

An employees has to be able to work, but there are many things that can prevent that. Maybe the Internet always crashes. Maybe an open-concept work space steals any sense of privacy. Maybe the printer never has enough ink. Office environment concerns are a great way to leverage pulse surveys: find out what people like, what’s missing, and what has to go.

They smell bigger changes.

Guy I know quit a restaurant job because they were going to start making the cooks wear kitchen pants. [...] Having to spend $$$$ on entirely new attire when you've been at a job for a long time is a huge pain, and is usually a symptom of bigger changes.

 - [deleted]

Employees get skittish when they start seeing changes around the workplace. They likely think that bigger, badder changes are coming, and that it’s only a matter of time before they find their jobs on the chopping block. Be forthright with employees. If this is a single, isolated change, say so. If a bunch of new changes are in the works, disclose that and what the changes will entail. If you can’t reveal or don’t know what will be happening, communicate that as well. Inform employees that they’ll know as soon as you can tell them.

They dread the commute.

An organization with whom I worked closely moved 6 city blocks, and one of their employees quit because he was no longer able to walk to work. Their move was 6 blocks along the subway line, and he was at the manager level (the subway fair was not an issue).

- Ganglebot

An employee’s commute is an essential, and not to be ignored, part of the work day. Many employers are aware that changing office locations may cause employees to find a job closer to home. But don’t forget these other location-based reasons for leaving that are out of your control: a child changing schools and being further from the parent’s work; a large, long-term construction project that slows the morning commute; or a new dog who needs to be let out during lunch. How should you deal with what is in your control? Consider employee needs when changing office locations, allow flex hours (6:30-3:30 for example) so employees aren’t commuting during rush hour, or offer to reimburse for gas.

They don’t fit in.

they stopped playing movies in the staff room at work and he didn't want to sit in awkward silence with middle age women during his lunch break--at superstore, i think he was 17

- Ileumn                                                  

"Fit" can be determined by a lot of factors, including age, family life, hobbies, and social status. Common interests and experiences are important to helping an employee feel like they belong. For example, employees want to know that if they make a reference, that it will be understood and appreciated. The attentive manager or HR rep never lets workplace homogeneity get this far out of whack in the first place. But if it does, here are some tips you can use to help employees get to know each other.

They’re intimidated.

Was working in a cafe for the third day, dropped a whole jug of water before the cafe opened. Later that day I spilled half a latte while delivering it to a customer, quit immediately.

- [deleted]

This reason for leaving is especially applicable to young employees or those new to a particular skill. Failing is scary, jarring, and challenges our perception of ourselves. So, when confronted with something they’re not good at, many employees turn and run. If you believe in them, let them know. This is where managers need to motivate their employees. Recognize them for the effort — not necessarily the achievement of learning a new skill, and point out to coworkers when they reach important milestones.

They encounter the final straw.

I once had a job working in an office for about 3 years that I was fairly successful at and more or less enjoyed but I didn't see it as having much of a future since we had been on a hiring freeze for over a year and there was always something that they were cutting back on. About six months before I quit they had reduced our time off and increased our contribution for our health plans and even though we were doing really well as a company it just seemed like they were taking advantage of the economic downturn after the housing market crashed to tighten their belts on anything that made life easier for employees.

So yeah at the time it may have seemed like I quit because they got rid of stir sticks for coffee in the break room but that was really the last straw and I had to get out.

- Evacuroppptio

It is a manager’s job to listen to and advocate for the employees. Employee obstacles or complaints should always have a dedicated discussion time in your weekly check-ins or monthly one on ones. The concerns may seem small, but beware: ignore an employee’s grievances, and it won’t be long until those grievances turn into a reason for leaving.

As good as this list is, there are many more reasons why employees leave. Lucky for you, you can find out why! Leverage Quantum Workplace for exit surveys, and take control of your employee retention.


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