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The real deal on why people quit

Globe and Mail Update

Why do people quit?

A Canadian survey of more than 1,600 respondents to be released Wednesday suggests a lack of trust in senior leaders is the main factor behind their departure. The poll was conducted in May by David Aplin Recruiting.

Insufficient pay was the second most common reason to leave, followed by an unhealthy or undesirable workplace culture. More than half of respondents quit more because of job dissatisfaction than due to a new job opportunity.

The survey highlights a disconnect between why workers quit, and why managers think they quit. The recruiting firm sent a similar poll on why workers quit to 250 Canadian managers and human resources professionals. They listed pay as the top reason, followed by an unexpected job offer or a decision to change careers.

“What managers fail to perceive is that ‘push factors,' mostly within their own power, are the initial stimuli – the first causes – that that open the door to the ‘pull' of outside opportunities,” said Jeff Aplin, Calgary-based executive vice-president of the national recruiting company.

While some Canadian employers are shrinking their headcount in this recession – shedding about 320,000 since October – many others are striving to hang on to remaining staff. The cost of replacing a departing worker – including recruiting and training a new hire – is the equivalent of up to 200 per cent of that employee's annual salary.

These “costs are avoidable,” the survey said; more than two thirds of departing people said they first voiced their concerns to managers before deciding to leave. One-fifth said they would have changed their mind and stayed if their employer had agreed to try to alter the situation.

Below are the most common reasons, in order of importance, that workers give for voluntarily leaving an employer:

1. Lack of trust in senior leaders

2. Insufficient pay

3. Unhealthy/undesirable culture

4. Lack of honesty/integrity/ethics

5. Lack of opportunity for training and development.

By contrast, the following are the top reasons managers say they think their employees left:

1. Insufficient pay

2. Unexpected job/career opportunity

3. Decision to change careers

4. Lack of work-life balance

5. Lack of opportunity for training and development.

Senior leaders should try to build (or re-build) trust among their employees by being honest and transparent as well as having a clear vision and a workable plan, the recruiting firm said.

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