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10 Reasons Good Employees Quit Even if You Pay Them Enough

It is always sad and challenging when a valued employee leaves the company. Very often, our efforts at retention are targeted towards compensation. But there are other reasons for which a successful employee may want to quit their job. Here are 10 of them.


We’ve all heard it time and time again – “Employees don’t leave a company. They leave their manager.” First of all, this is not entirely true. Even in this list, there are nine more reasons for employees to leave their jobs.

But more importantly, this is not always a bad thing. Yes, some terrible managers micromanage, do not create clear expectations, do not provide recognition, take credit for their employee’s work, or treat them disrespectfully. But there are also some great managers who do everything right, and employees still leave them.

Why is that? On the one hand, good managers develop their employees and help them grow personally and professionally. Just like good parents, they give their team members wings. And those wings sometimes take them away from the team.

On the other, good managers set clear expectations, goals and values for their team. This provides the foundation for teamwork, cooperation and great results. However, it also clearly distinguishes the employees who do not align with the common objectives and assumptions. And they sooner or later leave. Which, in the long run, actually only makes the team stronger.

Loss of meaning and purpose

Most employees worth retaining need to feel that their work has meaning. They want to understand how they contribute towards something bigger and better. If we fail to paint this larger picture to them, and they do not see the purpose of their everyday efforts, they will likely lose motivation and leave.

Moreover, for our employees’ work to have meaning and purpose, their work objectives and values must align with their personal values and goals. When there is a significant discrepancy between the two, it isn’t easy to find meaning in what they do and stay motivated.

Inability to see the results of their work

Sometimes our employees work very hard towards achieving a goal, but somehow it continues to elude them. This may be because of a lack of sufficient resources. Or the priorities of the organization continuously shift. Or the workplace politics interfere with the personal or team goals.

All of these may result in an overwhelming feeling that they keep banging their heads against a wall. And if the obstacles are not removed, in giving up and leaving.

Lack of career opportunities

Most employees nowadays put a big emphasis on the opportunity for career advancement. And if the company cannot provide them with such, they will look for growth elsewhere.

It is important to note that sometimes the issue is not in the lack of opportunities as such but in the absence of enough information and support in taking advantage of the existing opportunities. As managers, it is crucial to understand our employees’ career aspirations and ensure that they know about all their options.

Lack of cultural fit

Company culture comprises the shared values, beliefs and practices across an organization. It sets the context of everything we do in the workplace. And of course, if the company culture is toxic, this can be a significant reason for employees to quit.

However, an employee may not be a direct fit into a positive organizational culture as well. And what is crucial in these cases is the maturity of the organization and us as leaders. While often perceived as only related to race or gender, the concept of diversity is actually much broader. Cultural misfits can bring many new ideas and approaches to the work process and lead to a lot of innovation. However, many managers still find it challenging to integrate someone who does not immediately match the team or organizational culture with their teams.

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Work-life balance

Work-life balance is a common reason for resignation. And it is often relatively straightforward – a schedule that does not align with personal responsibilities or long working hours.

But there is another side of it that may not be so obvious. Your employee may finish work at a reasonable hour. But if they are so preoccupied with their job and tasks that they cannot stop thinking about them, this is bound to damage their work-life balance.

We all want employees who are engaged and burn in what they do. But we have to be careful that we set a limit and do not turn this burning into burnout.

Job Insecurity

Job security concerns can be brought up by any changes in the organization or the team, such as:

  • Organizational restructuring
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Implementation of new technology
  • Changes in leadership
  • Resignation within the team
  • Involuntary terminations within the team

Any and all of these will inevitably prompt some employees to question whether their job is safe. And we have to be careful because generic placating statements like “everything will be alright” are rarely enough in situations like that. The employees will need us to outline the specific path for their future.

Lack of trust

Trust is fundamental for all relationships in our life. In the workplace, trust is the cornerstone of employee engagement and motivation. Not being able to trust that your manager or your organization will keep their commitments or treat you with fairness and respect could undermine all their other efforts to retain you and inspire you.

And ultimately, after one too many breaches of trust, you will decide to leave.

Lack of recognition

Lack of recognition is one of the top reasons for employees to leave their job. If they work hard and achieve the desired results and more, they expect to receive credit for it. This recognition must be delivered in a way that is meaningful for the specific employee. Many companies have standard recognition programs, but when it comes to showing someone their value for the organization, one size does definitely not fit all.

So if you rely on the same recognition approach for everyone, do not be surprised if your employees leave saying that they have not felt recognized.

It’s just too much

And sometimes, despite everything else in this list being alright, the job just becomes too much. It might be due to excessive workload, or complicated relationships, or a combination of many factors. But there are times when an employee may feel utterly overwhelmed and just call it quits. And usually, at that point, there is very little we can do.

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