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8 Reasons Employees Quit (and Join the Independent Workforce)

TalentWave is now People2.0! New company, same great thought leadership.

The independent workforce is rapidly growing, with many experts now predicting it could approach 50% of the total U.S. workforce within the next decade. There are a number of significant demographic, firmographic and psychographic trends that are driving this phenomenon. The vast majority of these workers become independent after they’ve been an employee somewhere first. Examining the reasons employees quit can provide some valuable insights for human resources and talent acquisition leaders who are in charge of attracting and retaining both employees and independent workers.

The most common path independent workers take is to leave a job where they have gained valuable industry and functional experience, and then set up shop as an independent worker selling their services on a project or contract basis. Whether we call them consultants, contractors, temps, freelancers, or solopreneurs, these independent workers have made the decision to leave the relative safety and comfort of regular employment for the excitement and reward of controlling their own destiny as a business of one.

Human resources and talent acquisition professionals are increasingly focused on deploying a “total talent” strategy that seeks to optimize the mix of employees and flexible workers. A strategic objective is to become an “employer of choice” for employees and a “client of choice” for independent workers. In order to become better at attracting and retaining the employees they need for their core workforce, as well as the independent workers they need to supplement, it is helpful for HR leaders to examine some of the most common reasons employees quit their jobs voluntarily. This might lead to new strategies and tactics that both keep valued workers from leaving and attract those who left and are now independent.

8 Reasons Employees Quit

No Work-Life Balance

While true work-life balance may be as mythical as a pink unicorn, the truth is that some jobs are so heavily skewed toward being “on” 24/7 that there is no chance of a personal life or family time. For obvious reasons, many employees decide that the return is not worth the investment of their time and sacrifice of family. Smart employers pay attention to job design, and how hard employees are working so that they can get ahead of work-life imbalances before the worker bails out.

Workload

As highlighted in factor #1 above, employees often elect to leave because they are simply tasked with too much work. This problem can creep up slowly as good employees are often capable of doing more than they were initially hired to do. At some point, if management is not paying attention, the employee becomes overburdened having been tasked with more work than they can handle. The resulting long hours and frustration can lead to burnout, and ultimately, quitting.

The corollary to too much work, is not enough. Many capable workers are bored and seeking non-existent new challenges. This lack of job fulfillment can be just as toxic as being overworked, and often results in the same outcome with the employee electing to leave.

No Career Path

Many employees elect to leave jobs when there is no upward mobility. They find themselves on a dead-end road, where no matter how hard they work or what they deliver, there are no opportunities for advancement. To make matters worse, many corporate environments practice favoritism or nepotism, where relationships and political capital outweigh performance. In these situations, it is not uncommon to see a less qualified or capable team member gets a promotion. It should come as no surprise that this is one of the top reasons employees quit, and your high-performing employees will look elsewhere.

Poor Management

The plain truth is that not every worker is mentally or emotionally equipped to be a manager. Unfortunately, in many organizations being a manager is viewed as a step on the career ladder, regardless of an employee’s skills or aptitude. The gap in communication, management, and interpersonal skills can leave both parties frustrated. Given that the power typically lies with the manager, in most situations the worker will elect to leave the company if there is no relief in sight.

Toxic Work Environment

When asked why they choose to stay with a company, many employees answer that they like their colleagues and the working environment. Interpersonal conflicts, office gossip, recognition-grabbing or undercutting by coworkers can create a toxic work environment, which can easily make a capable employee consider leaving.

An emerging problem in today’s competitive working environment is interoffice competition. Even when a company offers flexible hours and generous vacation time, a competitive workplace might prevent employees from feeling like they can safely use their benefits or flexible work options without being negatively judged.

Inadequate System of Rewards

If raises are low or non-existent, and recognition for a job well done is not common, then company loyalty will suffer. Smart managers recognize employees who do good work, both financially and publicly. If they don’t, workers will choose to take their talent somewhere else.

Sub-par Benefits

For many workers, a generous benefits package can be as attractive as a generous salary. Common examples include: professional development or education, good health insurance, generous sick days, flexible hours, telecommuting options, more-than-the-minimum paid maternity and paternity leave, ample vacation time. A comprehensive benefits package can help a company retain valuable workers. The lack of a comprehensive and attractive benefits package can inspire an employee to look for a better package elsewhere.

Changing Career Goals

In the rapidly evolving new world of work it has become much more common, and accepted, to switch jobs frequently. In prior generations, there was a stigma with someone who hadn’t been loyal to one company for a number of years. That is no longer the case. Many people switch jobs multiple times over the course of their careers. As an example, most people born in the late baby boom (1957-1964) have had 11.7 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 48.

Strategic companies talk with their valued workers about ways in which they can stay in their job while continuing to learn and grow. For an increasing number of workers, this includes exploring the concept of becoming an independent worker, free to choose projects and companies that interest them.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many reasons employees quit a job. In an era of talent scarcity, strategic organizations take great care to reward good workers with appropriate pay, benefits and recognition. Many human resources and talent acquisition leaders are also re-evaluating the way work gets done, and exploring whether independent workers might be equally, or better suited, for the task than an employee. They often rely on the expertise and solutions TalentWave offers to engage independent workers safely and effectively. This creates an environment that lets all workers (regardless of whether they are employees or contractors) know they are valued, and attracts and retains the vital talent which the organization needs to get work done.

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