Top reasons why people call it quits


Personal commitments and search for greener pastures seem to be the main reasons for people ending their job contracts across the world.

Let us start with an old career adage, ‘Employees do not leave their jobs, they leave their bosses.’ This piece of conventional wisdom may be true to some extent, because people do leave companies when they are not given growth opportunities. However, this cannot be the only reason behind employees deciding to end their tenures with organisations.

The 2015 Compensation Best Practices Report by Pay Scale, which is its sixth edition, compiles responses of business leaders from companies of every size, across a wide section of industries. Based on the revelations of the report, here are the top six reasons why employees quit their jobs in 2014.

It’s Personal 

There are some reasons that involve life events in the employees’ world, outside of work. They may decide to follow their spouses across the country, stay home with their children, and sometimes even go back to school. These reasons are the most difficult to address.

In fact, the study indicates that in the last few years, this reason has consecutively been the major motivator behind an employee’s decision to change his job. At 21 per cent, personal reasons dominated the 2015 list as well.

Interestingly, even in the healthcare and social assistance sectors, over 28 per cent of the employees cited personal reasons for calling it quits. The trend has been consistent over the past few years.

Money Matters 

At a time when the war for talent is intensifying, it is only natural that employees want to stay abreast with the best packages on offer. Often, organisations are willing to pay someone more than their current package just to rope in the right talent.

The 2015 Report shows trends that employees do not just cite personal obligations as a reason for their departure. In 2014, around 21 per cent of employees left their organisations in favour of better packages offered by other companies.

For medium and large companies, the main reason why people leave a job is compensation. More than 25 per cent of respondents chose offer of higher pay elsewhere as the primary reason for employee separations.

Greener Pastures

The job market is growing, with opportunities being rolled out not only in metros but in tier two and three cities as well. The present only hints at a brighter future and employees, nowadays, are open to exploring new options. At 18 per cent, promising career options elsewhere occupied the third spot on the list.

The trend of leaving jobs for greener pastures was high in sectors, such as information technology, media, telecommunications and scientific and tech services. Around 24 per cent of the employees in these sectors, left their jobs in 2014 to look for better advancement opportunities.

I have been sacked

In 2014, involuntary terminations accounted for 16 per cent of overall departures but the trend varies greatly with the size of the organisation in question, as large companies only accounted for 5 per cent of the terminations due to poor performance.
The rate, however, was much higher at 21 and 15 per cent in the case of small and medium-sized companies, respectively. This might be because of the lack of a well-oiled HR division in such companies. All too often, there is a difference between the original job description and what was promised during the interview process, which leads to employees’ dissatisfaction, and hence, their untimely departure.

Time to retire
Despite predictions of the impending mass exodus of baby boomers, retirement accounted for only 6 per cent of all terminations in 2014. Larger companies reported a higher number of retirements with a rate of 9 per cent than the medium or small companies with a 5 and 6 per cent rate, respectively.

I don’t like my boss
Believe it or not, the adage that we started with is actually true. Employees need appreciation. They need to feel valued for the work they do. Poor management skills can lead to work–life imbalance and create disharmony in workspaces. The lack of feedback and coaching can inhibit growth, which ultimately can have dire consequences. If a manager has the natural ability to get along with people and motivate them, chances are that workers are going to stick with him through thick and thin. After all, everyone knows that it pays to be loyal!


  1. I agree with the contents of the article. The new CMD of the PSU started criticising the managers within one month of his joining.he charge sheeted 55 managers on silly grounds.As a HR head I cautioned him not to do things in a hasty manner.Then he started plans to give trouble to me.So after 28 years in the same company I resigned.Then complained to the government.After enquiries, he was also made to resign.The company suffered a lot.

  2. I am working for a Charitable trust Foundation. Of late we are facing high Attrition rate . good employees with experience and freshers both are joining . But leaving within days or weeks as the case may be. we are telling them in the interview itself to give long term committeement as we plan to send them for training and spend some money on them.

  3. Advice to all HR’s thinking to join startups !

    1- Never join a startup with less than 200 employees.
    Reason – Lesser than 200 employees means the company is not yet an established startup. That means the Founders are still begging around for more VC funding for their company.
    2 – Never join a a startup with a lesser educated Founders
    Reason – Trust me a well educated Founder from any IIT or IIM is far likely to succeed in his en-devour to successfully get VC funding and establish his startup. In a worse situation he can at least sell the venture for a good value and benefit all in the organisation.
    3 – Try to avoid joining a startup with a very young entrepreneur (as they call them selves).
    Reason : Lack of maturity, decision making skills very impulsive behavior. This would make any HR professional or any employee feel unstable of his employment as often people in small yet to establish startup are leaving jobs due to this very reason!. Also this results in a very negative and unhappy work environment. People no longer feel valued !.

  4. Dear Mr. Rao,

    Reasons for high attrition are many. Also many reasons are surprising small, depending on organisation size, industry and people. I suggest Exit interviews be taken of the employees wanting to leave you organisation. Try to get an external HR consultant for this exercise as this would make the employee more comfortable to open up with the real reason behind his/her leaving. This in turn would tremendously help your organisation.
    Remember if you want to know the truth then you’ll have to be supportive and true to yourself !

  5. It’s a well written article.
    I also wish to add here that the “job profile” also plays a very important role in retention or resignation of employees.At times a clear understanding of expectations from both the employee and employer is essential.
    The new generation is always after the so called “Challanges in job”. But they, at times fail to understand that challenges are your own responsibilities and they can do the job differently.

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