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People Culture

Exploring Attrition: Possible Reasons

Pragya Sinha

Pragya Sinha

June 29, 2023 7 min read

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In today’s dynamic and competitive job market, employee attrition has become a pressing concern for organisations. Companies invest considerable time, effort, and resources in hiring and training their employees, making employee turnover a significant challenge. To better understand this issue, it is essential to examine the underlying reasons why employees change jobs. This article explores several key factors contributing to attrition, providing insights into the decision-making process of employees in search of new opportunities.

Career Development and Growth Opportunities

Career advancement and growth opportunities play a crucial role in employee job satisfaction and retention. According to a study conducted by Management Research Group (2018), employees who feel their careers are progressing tend to be more engaged and motivated. Organizations that offer clear career paths, training programs, and opportunities for skill development are more likely to retain their top talent (Benson, 2019).

To cite an example, Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook, also known for her successful career in technology and leadership, shared her experience of leaving Google to join Facebook in her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” She explained that one of the main reasons for her decision was the opportunity for professional growth and advancement that Facebook provided. At Google, despite her achievements and contributions, Sandberg felt that her career had hit a plateau and there were limited opportunities for her to take on more significant responsibilities. Joining Facebook allowed her to have a more impactful role and contribute to the rapid growth and development of the company (Sandberg, 2013).

Compensation and Benefits

Competitive compensation and packages that benefit employees are powerful tools that can be used to reduce employee attrition. Research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) (2019) found that employees consistently rank compensation and benefits as significant factors in their job satisfaction and decision to stay or leave. Organisations that fail to offer beneficial salaries, bonuses, and comprehensive benefit plans risk losing talented employees to other companies that may provide better packages (Oreopoulos, 2011).

Marissa Mayer made headlines when she decided to leave her high-ranking position at Google to become the CEO of Yahoo in 2012. In interviews and discussions, she cited the competitive compensation package offered by Yahoo as a significant factor in her decision. Despite her success at Google, Mayer saw the opportunity to take on a leadership role at Yahoo as a chance to enhance her career and financial prospects (Hempel, 2013).

Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is increasingly valued by employees and can significantly impact their decision to change jobs. Studies have shown that a poor work-life balance can lead to increased stress, burnout, and decreased job satisfaction (Allen, Golden, & Shockley, 2015). Organizations that prioritize work-life balance by implementing flexible work arrangements, telecommuting options, and supportive policies can create an environment where employees are more likely to remain loyal and committed.

In her book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder,” Arianna Huffington shared her personal journey and the reasons behind her decision to leave her high-powered role as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post to prioritize her well-being and work-life balance. She experienced firsthand the detrimental effects of burnout and sleep deprivation, which led her to reassess her priorities and redefine success beyond the traditional metrics of power and money (Huffington, 2014).

Organizational Culture and Leadership

A positive organizational culture and effective leadership are vital factors in employee job satisfaction and retention. Research by Gallup (2017) revealed that employees who feel engaged and connected to their organization’s mission and values are more likely to stay. Conversely, toxic work environments, lack of trust, and ineffective leadership can drive employees to seek new opportunities elsewhere (Ng & Feldman, 2014).

One notable example is Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos. Hsieh, known for his emphasis on company culture and customer service, shared his story of leaving a lucrative job at a tech startup to join Zappos in his book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.” Hsieh was motivated by his belief that organizational culture and leadership are paramount to a company’s success. He wanted to build a company culture that fostered employee happiness and satisfaction, which, in turn, would result in superior customer service and profitability. Hsieh’s decision to leave a job focused solely on financial gain exemplifies the importance of a positive organizational culture and effective leadership (Hsieh, 2010).

Lack of Recognition and Appreciation

Employee recognition and appreciation are critical for reducing attrition and  fostering a sense of belonging and motivation. Research conducted by Bersin & Associates (2012) found that employees who feel valued and recognized for their contributions are more engaged and less likely to leave their current positions. Companies that invest in employee recognition programs, regular feedback, and open communication channels can foster a culture of appreciation that increases employee loyalty (Biswas-Diener, 2019).

One prominent example is Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and former talk show host. In interviews and speeches, Winfrey has spoken about her early career experiences where she felt undervalued and unappreciated. She recounts how she decided to leave a local news station where she was told she was not fit for television. Winfrey believed in her potential and sought an opportunity where her talents would be recognized. This led her to host her own talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which became a massive success and catapulted her to international fame (Winfrey, 2019).

Toxic managers

The relationship between employees and their managers plays a huge  role in job satisfaction and overall employee experience (Management Research Group, 2018). How a particular manager manages their team impacts the rates of attrition significantly. Poor management practices can have a detrimental impact on employee engagement, motivation, and retention (Bersin & Associates, 2012). When managers fail to provide adequate support, feedback, or mentorship, employees may feel unsupported and undervalued (Ng & Feldman, 2014). Secondly, Employees thrive when they have autonomy and trust in their abilities. However, managers who excessively micromanage or fail to delegate responsibilities can stifle employee growth and engagement (Oreopoulos, 2011).

An example to cite here would be Bob Sutton, a professor of management science at Stanford University and the author of “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.” In his book, Sutton explores the negative impact of toxic individuals, including managers, in the workplace and provides strategies for creating healthier work environments (Sutton, 2007). While Sutton does not explicitly discuss changing jobs due to a toxic manager, his work emphasizes the detrimental effects of toxic behavior on employees and the importance of fostering a positive and respectful work culture.

To conclude, employee attrition can be a costly and disruptive issue for organisations, necessitating a deeper understanding of the factors driving employees to change jobs. This article has highlighted several key reasons why employees are most likely to seek new opportunities, including career development and growth opportunities, compensation and benefits, work-life balance, organizational culture and leadership, lack of recognition and appreciation, and toxic managers. By addressing these factors and creating an environment that prioritizes employee well-being, organizations can reduce turnover rates and retain their valuable talent in an increasingly competitive job market.

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