Why people leave their jobs and how to stop them

Ben Hosking
Jul 4 · 6 min read

Incorrect requirements always result in a bad solution #hoskcodewisdom

People move jobs regularly, few stay in the same company for longer than 3 years. What is the cause for moving regularly?

Moving and recruiters

This article says we move jobs every 4 to 5 years but IT workers move more often due to more contact from LinkedIn and recruiters. The big winners in people moving are recruitmenters who get paid for a person moving and get paid to replace them, who then replaces someone else in an endless cycle.

Recruitment has changed from people applying to job adverts to most IT professionals being head hunted or being tempted with job offers for more money, improved benefits and better roles.

Most teams don’t make sure their employees are being paid competitive wages, they still operate in the old method of giving people a percentage increase. The result is in 2 plus years most people’s experience, skills and knowledge is worth more than their current employer is paying them. This leaves the company vulnerable because if a recruiter sends this person a new role then it could be for more money they are being paid.

IT professionals and software developers have the opportunity to learn new technologies, this experience if in the right technology such as AI, Big Data, Machine learning or the next sort after skill can be worth even more. The demand for the growing areas of AI, Machine learning means those with those skills get paid a premium whilst more people up-skill in this area.

What makes people move?

A lack of money demotivates and getting more persuades people who move jobs but there comes a point where mone is not the main driver. Other factors which drive people to move are below

  • Engagement
  • Involvement
  • Feeling valued (listened to)
  • Career progression
  • Money
  • Benefits
  • Culture
  • Values
  • Type of people
  • Behaviours encouraged
  • Work atmosphere
  • People
  • bad colleagues/bosses
  • Good colleagues
  • Work
  • Challenging
  • Interesting
  • Learning
  • Training, improving
  • Getting new skills

Its a mixture of the company providing benefits and individual team within a company having different culture/teams/people and atmosphere.

Why do people move jobs?

People move to where there is potential to improve their skills and progress their career. When people are progressing in their careers they are happy because progression leads to challenging roles and payrises.

Research from Salary.com shows that 23% of employees look for a new job every single day. this article Your Happy Employees Are Still Job Hunting (Infographic) shows some other reasons

  • 10% want a better work life balance
  • 9% want a new boss
  • 5% want flexible scheduling
  • 4% want better benefits
  • 3% want more recognition

Culture, engagement, progression

The focus on recruitment is

  1. Salary
  2. Benefits
  3. Other reasons

This attitude is outdated because IT professions gets regular offers via LinkedIn, they understand their worth and moving jobs is easy.

A positive culture, engaged employees, training and career progression are reasons for employees to stay. Without a positive culture, engaged employees there are a fewer reasons for individuals to stay at a company, it makes it easier to move.

Losing staff members is expensive, costs such as

  • Recruitment fees
  • Loss of business knowledge
  • Domino effect of others moving
  • Re-training and getting new members up to speed
  • CV and Interviewing costs
  • Potential project failure

Richard Branson explains the benefit of training your staff with the quote below

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to”. Richard Branson

Get people involved

Leaders tell the team the problem and then explain the plan. Telling makes people less interested because it’s not their plan, it’s an order. Instead explain the direction and problems, ask for ideas. Companies hire good people, so get out of the way and let them be great.

To get to better ideas you need more people to propose ideas. Ideas from different people have different perspectives and areas of expertise. This generates a base to build future solutions from.

Involved people feel valued because they are making a difference, this encourages people to stay.

IT projects are a people business

It’s easy to focus on technology, it’s sexy, new and you can amaze customers. You can wow with impressive capacity, power, speed and flexibility of cloud solutions (Azure, Dynamics, Power Platform, etc) but this misses the point.

Customers are not interesting in technology, they are interested in having a solution that helps them do their jobs and be successful. e.g. What are the benefits to the business and users, who cares what technology it’s built on.

Projects are delivered by people working together as a team. An IT project is a collaboration between the business experts (Customer) and the technical experts (developers, functional consultants, testers, etc). Its a collaboration to understand the requirements, creating a solution and delivering the solution (which will be wrong and need to change as more detailed requirements are uncovered).

The better the team trusts each other, the more effectively they collaborate and the more fun it is. Delivering projects successfully makes work enjoyable and keeps people.

Improving

One reasons for moving jobs is career progression. Life is interesting and challenging when you are learning new skills, you are making progress on your career goals. People look for jobs when they are stagnating.

Achieving

It’s great to be part of a team with a clear objectives and who a delivering. When you work on a project and you deliver it to specification and on time, you feel a sense of achievement.

People want their work to matter and feel it makes a difference.

In the article Who Are Your Motivated Workers?

  • 43% said achievement is a motivator
  • 24% said recognition is a motivator

We want to contribute, achieve and be recognised/praised for our good work. It takes effort to praise people for good work.

Recognition has little long lasting value because it’s soon forgotten, to be effective you need to recognise good work consistently and constantly. Recognition has to be earnt and you must be specific with your praise otherwise it lacks impact.

People have to hear recognition and you cannot assume they know you appreciate their effort.

A lack of recognition demotivates and drive people away. If someone is doing a good job but not one tells them it leads feeling under appreciated and de-motivation.

The measure of achievement can be company goals, projects delivered or personal achievements. We might only play a small part but we feel valued. The quote from Steve Jobs when hiring John Sculley to Apple from Pepsi.

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

Career progression

If you are not progressing you are falling behind. People need goals and be working towards them.

If you career progress is stagnating, it leads to frustration and looking for new opportunities.

If people don’t enjoy what they are doing they won’t do it well. The responsibility of doing a job you enjoy and are passionate about is both with the individual and the employer. The individual needs to think about their job, what parts they enjoy and what they don’t.

One of the most important boosts you can give your career is picking a job you enjoy and one you want to get better at.

Keep moving towards your ideal job and what you like doing, where your strengths are. You spend 8 hours a day at work, a third of your life, so pick something you are interested in.

If you don’t enjoy your job you will never excel at it or progress because you cannot fake enthusiasm or passion. Everyone works in work but to progress you need to improve yourself outside of work and make the most of your time in work (learning, networking, experiences, skills).

Engagement

For people to be engaged they need to be included. When people are told what to do they start to turn off but when you give them a problem and ask them to solve it, they get involved.

If you hire good people then let them contribute you

Leaders make a big difference in employee engagement, this article What Great managers do daily quote a Gallup study

a Gallup study found that at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores is driven by who the boss is. This is disconcerting because the same research found that about 70% of people in management roles are not well equipped for the job.

Have more fun

Work is important but that doesn’t mean you have to be serious. You can do the job, deliver projects and have fun. Incorporate fun into the project, get to know others on the team and deliver.

Life is short, so enjoy as much of it as you can.

Final thought

Be engaged, get involved, praise others and you will be successful

Further reading

4 reasons talented employees don’t reach their potential

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