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Why do people really quit?

Natalie Singer

If you ask employers to tell you why their employees leave, they’ll undoubtedly say that it was for more money. While this is true in 12% of cases, the vast majority of individuals leave their current jobs for a variety of other reasons.

In a global study conducted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC), more than 19 000 people provided their reasons for leaving as part of formal exit interviews conducted by previous employers. For the most part, the primary reasons people left their jobs are related to feelings of frustration, lack of appreciation or boredom.

So, it’s not actually all about money...

It’s fully understandable that in tighter economic times, large increases or additional benefits are not as easy to offer, especially if you’re a small company. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t create a company culture that puts its people first.

People leave managers, not jobs

It seems clear that as four out of 10 reasons related directly to the supervisor’s abilities, the adage “people don’t leave jobs, the leave managers” rings true. However, there is a way you can minimise your staff turnover.

3 ways you could avoid excessive staff turnover

1.    Allow frustrated individuals to voice their issues to someone other than their supervisor;

2.    Where possible, move the frustrated person within the department so that he reports to a different manager. and

3.    Improve the overall productivity and happiness in your workplace.

So how can I improve productivity in my workplace?

1.    Create an environment that encourages people development

Great employees want to feel as if they are contributing to the organisation and not just filling a seat. More and more people, including those from Generation Y, are looking for work opportunities that not only provide them with the finances to succeed in their outside interests but also meaningful work.

Ask your employees these seven questions to find out how you can improve productivity in your working environment:

1.    Are you able to grow and develop your skills?

2.    Do you feel that you have opportunities to advance your career?

3.    Is your job challenging and does it make good use of your talents?

4.    Do you receive the necessary training so you can capably perform your job?

5.    Can you see the end results of your work?

6.    Do you receive regular, constructive feedback about your performance?

7.    Are you confident that if you work hard, demonstrate commitment and make meaningful contributions you will be recognised and rewarded accordingly?

2.    Develop your staff’s skills

Skills development needn’t be limited to formal training interventions and could be as simple as allowing your existing staff members to provide input on spaces within their responsibility areas that they feel could be improved. Alternatively, you could also allow them to job-shadow someone else in another department they feel they may be able to add value in. Encouraging innovation and out-the-box thinking will not only empower your people but could very possibly result in some brilliant ideas that could improve your business.

3.    Establish a structured exit process

Unless you really understand why people are leaving your company, you could be spending too much time and money on the wrong things. But bear in mind that when asked why they are leaving, most employees will be coy and resort to the favourite “better opportunities” line.

So if you feel that a formal face-to-face exit interview may not work in your environment, why not consider an online exit interview survey that you ask people to complete once they have left? This may not always get a full response rate, but you’re far more likely to get some real, valuable information that could assist in monitoring and managing staff retention. Keep the survey short and sweet, and provide a combination of multiple choice and free text questions, where people can freely enter their answers. This way you’re likely to get information that is easily interpreted and can be tracked to see of any of your internal staff interventions have succeeded in promoting staff retention.


Natalie Singer has more than twelve years’ experience in recruitment, most of which was at the helm of the premier staffing professional body in Africa. Throughout her career Natalie has worked as a recruiter, run a recruitment business, trained hundreds of recruiters, lobbied for the industry, appeared in the press and on TV and radio and served on the World Employment Board. Talent3sixty is a bespoke talent management consultancy aimed at empowering recruiters, recruitment business owners and corporate talent managers. We are extremely passionate about talent management and the critical role it plays in driving organisational success. Through the experience, expertise and strategic partnerships of founder, Natalie Singer, Talent3sixty assists corporations and recruitment firms to enhance their strategies, improve their processes and empower their people.