Knowledge Center

Reasons for Leaving

  • People leave jobs because of push factors and/or pull factors. Employers have little effect on pull factors. 1

COMPANIES CAN REDUCE TURNOVER BY FOCUSING ON PUSH FACTORS 2

PUSH FACTORS PULL FACTORS
Individual’s perception of limited opportunities
 
Job offer with much greater compensation and/or more decision-making power
Lack of senior leader role models Desire to follow a life-long career dream or avocation
Excessive workload, especially attributed to bureaucratic and management inefficiencies Family responsibilities, both children, spouse, and elder care
Non-competitive rewards and recognition  
Lack of respect for personal life/desires  

 

  • In a Catalyst study, senior-level women gave their top three reasons for which they would leave their current organization, with 42.0% citing increased compensation, 35.0% to accept the opportunity to develop new skills or competencies, and 33.0% to pursue greater advancement opportunities.3
  • High-level men gave the same reasons, with 51.0% citing increased compensation, 32.0% to accept the opportunity to develop new skills or competencies, and 30.0% to pursue greater advancement opportunities.4
  • A 2007 study looked at professionals and managers who left their place of work due to unfairness and found that: 5
    • 9.5% of people of color that were professionals or managers left due to unfairness in their job.
    • 3.0% of Caucasian men and 4.6% of Caucasian women left their place of work due to unfairness in their jobs. 
    • 5.6% of gays and lesbians that were professionals or managers left due to unfairness in their job. 

SPECIFIC UNFAIRNESS EXPERIENCED AMONG RESPONDENTS WHO LEFT THEIR
PLACE OF WORK
 6

Specifc Form of
Unfairness Experienced
% Who left workplace

Public humiliation

14.8%

Passed over for a promotion

14.9%

Being compared to a terrorist

18.8%

Being asked to attend more recruiting or community related events

15.6%

Bullied on the job

13.5%

Having your identity mistaken

12.7%

Unwelcome questions about skin, hair, or ethnic attire

12.8%

 

The Cost of Turnover

  • Employee departure costs companies time, money and other resources. Research suggests that replacement costs can be as high as 50%-60% of an employee’s annual salary with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90%-200% of annual salary.7
  • High turnover rates are linked to shortfalls in organizational performance. 8
  • When retention is higher than normal, customer satisfaction, productivity, and profitability also tend to be higher than normal.9
  • Organizations can compute the cost of turnover to their organizations with a turnover calculator.10

Turnover by Industry, 2011 11

 

 

 

Tenure 12

  • The median employment tenure of all wage and salary workers in January 2012 was 4.6 years, up from 4.4 years in January 2010 and 4.1 years in January 2008.
  • Women had a median tenure of 4.6 and men 4.7.
  • In January 2012, management, professional, and related occupations had a median tenure of 5.5 years.
  • Service occupation workers had a median tenure of 3.2 years. 

 

 

 

Collective Turnover* Antecedents 13

  • HR systems and practices – There are links between the adoption of "high-commitment," "high involvement," or "high-performance" HR management systems and lower collective turnover.
  • Collective attitudes and perceptions – HR investments enhance workers’ attitudes (satisfaction, commitment), increase feelings of equity or fairness, reduce the attractiveness of alternatives, and/or weaken turnover intentions.
  • Collective characteristics –
    • Management/leadership quality – In six studies where collective turnover has been correlated with aspects of supervisor quality, no relationship has been found.
    • Climate/culture – A negative climate often results in a higher turnover rate
    • Cohesiveness/teamwork – Despite intuitive appeal, there is limited support for possible turnover-mitigating effects of group cohesiveness or teamwork.
    • Satisfaction/commitment – There is an inverse relationship between job satisfaction and collective turnover.
    • Justice/fairness – Research reveals no relationship between collective turnover rates and feelings of injustice or unfairness.

*Aggregate levels of employee departures that occur within groups, work units, or organizations.

 

How to cite this product: Catalyst. Catalyst Quick Take: Turnover and Retention. New York: Catalyst, 2012.