Why Are People Quitting? (And how to keep them)

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March 11, 2020 in Blog

Why Are People Quitting? (And how to keep them)

If you’re here to ask the question: “Why are people quitting in 2020?”, you’re in the right place. Employee retention constitutes a large part of what HR professionals do. You don’t want people to quit, but they’re going to do it anyway if they’re dissatisfied with something. We asked some experts to help us figure out what causes (and will cause) employees to quit in 2020. In no particular order, here are the reasons the experts told us.

It’s a New Year

Why are people quitting in 2020? Because it just turned 2020. It’s a new calendar year, and Cheryl Haynes, a principal consultant at AchieveMentor LLC with over 25 years HR experience, said that’s key.

“At the beginning of each calendar year hiring budgets rollout and capital projects begin. This usually equates to additions to existing staff and, assuming capital projects are transformational in nature, the need to hire key external talent to deliver on the change. Offers of employment for talent with critical skills tend to be 10%-20% or more than your usual 2%-3% annual merit increase,” Haynes said.

This basically boils down to cash. Companies have more to spend on hiring at the beginning of the calendar year, so, if you’re looking to jump ship, that’s the time to do it.

It’s not just because companies have more money for you, though. It’s also likely that you have more money yourself, which means more flexibility to make a big change like that. Annual bonuses are typically paid out at the end of the year or shortly after in the New Year.

“Once total compensation is delivered for prior year performance, employees are more receptive to making a move,” Haynes said.

More money, more problems. Money creates opportunities, bringing us to our next point.

More Opportunities, More Problems

Why are people quitting in 2020? According to Matt Erhard, Managing Partner at Summit Search Group, there are simply more job opportunities than there are applicants to fill them. If there are better opportunities out there:

“A dissatisfied worker is more likely to find employment elsewhere, where five years ago they might have stuck with the subpar conditions out of necessity,” Erhard said.

This has been a trend in previous years, and it’s likely to continue as we wade through 2020 with an improving economy.

Lack of Flexibility

Why are people quitting in 2020? Flexibility is huge now, particularly for the millennials hitting stride in the careers and the baby gen Zs entering the workforce. HR Manager and Lifestyle Coach at Safe Space Hub Stephanie Lane said as much.

“Most of the workforce right now is made up of Millenials and Millenials need flexibility,” Lane said.

This is important for hours, for one. The 9 to 5 life just isn’t for them. As much as it is for hours, it’s true of flexible location. Not having remote opportunities is another reason people quit in 2020, according to
Jon Hill, CEO and Chairman of The Energists, a recruiting firm.

“We’ve seen a huge uptick in people quitting to pursue remote work. More and more companies are going remote or allowing their employees to work from home a few days a week,” Hill said.

That desire to work remotely just comes with the territory of millenials and gen Z. They need that flexibility. If someone else offers it, and you don’t, bye, Felicia (do people still say that?).

Poor Pay

Why are people quitting in 2020? Well, just as the adage “more money, more problems” is true, so too is the adage “less money, more problems”. You could have guessed it: Employers that don’t pay enough aren’t going to keep most of their employees forever. If you want a raise, quit your job, Lane suggested.

“The quickest way to get a raise in your salary is by quitting,” Lane said.

Of course, she also said people should have a job lined up first. If people poke around long enough, and you’re not paying them enough, those people-fish will nibble on another hook and get reeled in. That is to say, someone else will hire them.

Lack of Growth Opportunities

Why are people quitting in 2020? They’ve reached their peak and have nowhere to move up to in their company. Stavros Triseliotis, Communications and Research Specialist at CareerAddict, said his company conducted a study that suggested 82% of people do so because there is “no progression”.

That makes sense. Just as sometimes the quickest way to get a raise is to move to another company, bringing with you all of your newfound experience, sometimes the best way to take on a bigger and better role is to find another company that needs you more.

Bad Management

Why are people quitting in 2020? For one of the reasons they’ve quit since the dawn of employment: bad bosses. Although Morgan Taylor, a financial expert and Chief Marketing Officer at LetMeBank, concedes that people rarely quit, he said they do so for two reasons: their direct boss and whether or not they can find another job.

As we’ve established, people should be able to find a job in 2020 because there are more jobs than qualified candidates. If someone’s boss is making their life more difficult, that someone is liable to start polishing their resume (on company time no less). They’re likely to find something better too, Taylor said.

“Something better is probably out there. Because right now, it’s a worker’s market. There are jobs available out there and each one is competing for the same group of workers,” Taylor said.

People don’t have to abide terrible bosses in 2020, so they probably won’t.

How to Retain Employees

By now, it’s probably no secret how to keep your employees. Don’t produce the conditions above. In case that’s not enough, though, Ana Casic, Media Relations Coordinator at Epiginosis, submitted research her company did in collaboration with a Harvard professor. The research corroborates something we’ve already established: bad bosses make messes.

“61% of managers [survey respondents] say that the number one reason they stay is that they work well with the people they manage,” the study found.

In other words, good bosses want to stay because they work well with people, and, if they work well with people, those people will want to stay as well.

The research supports some other points we’ve made as well. Forty-nine percent of people said they’re more likely to stay because they have decision-making power, i.e. they were able to progress within the company. Forty four percent said work life balance informs their reasons to stay, i.e. flexibility. Thirty seven percent said that feeling acknowledged made them want to stay, i.e. good bosses, again. Finally, coming back to growth and progression, 36% said they’re more likely to stay because they have training opportunities.

In other words, there are only two variables you can’t control when it comes to retaining people in 2020: how many opportunities are out there and the fact that it’s a new year. Unless you’re willing and able to single-handedly tank the economy or turn back time, pay your employees well, let them grow, give them flexibility, and replace bad bosses with good ones.

If you’re still mystified about what to do to keep your employees, don’t worry, we’ve written more.