Should I stay or should I go? What makes an employee want to quit a job?

Updated: Feb 10

Why do managers feel so sad and rejected when their best employees quit their jobs? In essence, there was a 99% chance it was because of the manager’s actions that the employee decided to leave in the first place.

With the abundancy of education and training courses available today as well as the support created within workplaces, it’s a wonder managers keep losing employees. For one thing, it is way more expensive to lose a trust-worthy, loyal employee than it is to begin the recruiting process for a new one.

What I find strange is when managers blame the problems of the loss of staff on the job in hand, rather than what’s really going on. There are three reasons for this:

  1. One of the biggest reasons people get up in the morning and travel to work every day to their workplace is for the money

  2. An employee tends to stay in one job because they find it rewarding, interesting and engaging

  3. They have a good manager

Therefore, it stands to reason that when an employee decides to leave a company, its one of three things:

  • Money and incentives

  • Pregnancy or family issues

  • Manager’s inability to manage

People have this innate need for meaning in their lives. Getting a bigger salary or a promotion inevitably means they have a better lifestyle and can enjoy more of the earth’s gifts.

Of course, family issues are always going to be where people are, that's natural. But, there are other people who influence another person’s decision making process. While families cannot help but make up a big part of life, if the employee finds their job rewarding, interesting and engaging enough, they will plan accordingly to fit both family and work into their busy schedules.

However, the third thing on the list is one of the biggest, yet least known, reasons why people choose to resign. Yes, it is a sad fact of life and it can easily be rectified with a few simple changes.

In order to get to the crux of point 3, the manager, their influence, actions and behaviour, we really should be able to assess where or when a manager failed and attempt to help them put it right.

What follows are a few basic ideas for managers to that help their employees leave or stay.

Increasing productivity – and pride

A good manager thinks carefully about how they interact with employees. They think about setting challenges the employee is able to achieve and they acknowledge those achievements through reward programmes.


A good manager will make certain they understand the balances that are needed, particularly between being a professional and being a human.

When a manager celebrates an employee’s special day, success, achievements (even if they are outside of the company’s hours), or if they are able to empathise with those who are undergoing hardships, the employee will remember these efforts and be thankful for them.

When managers fail to do these things, employees tend to lose faith in them.

Personnel Experience

A good manager pays attention to what the employee is able to offer with their skills, knowledge and experience. They make an effort to give positive feedback and also praise the employee if it is required.

When a manager fails to find areas for improvement and is unable to expand the employees skills and talents, it’s generally because the manager has an inability to comprehend the psychology of people.

Many manager’s can't understand that it's their job to them to use their managerial position to identify where their employee’s skills, knowledge and experience are and then set out to encourage the employee to use them wherever or whenever it is possible.

Employees appreciate honest feedback from their managers. When it doesn't come a good employee go.

Broken Promises

The relationship between a manager and employee is more like a marriage than we care to admit. There is a very thin line between the myriad of emotions that people can express while working eight hours or more a day together.

What goes a long way to helping an employee admire and trust their manager is when they:

  • honour their word

  • make a commitment and sticks to it

  • admits to a failure on their part and is able to apologise

Good Workers

A person that works hard, arrives on time and commits to the task at hand shows that they want to work and the would like to work with like-minded people.

When a manager employs a person who arrives late, is continually talking detrimentally about other people, situations or places, like a bad apple in a fruit bowl, this can only serve to demotivate and demoralise the other employees in the bunch. Inevitably, they’ll want to leave for a more positive environment.

When a manager either hires, promotes or rewards a person who doesn’t pull their weight, a good employee will see this as an insult and wonder if they should bother themselves.

Of course, it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that their work is going to fall to a lower standard or they may even withdraw their talents altogether.


If a manager expects more from the employee, then a compensatory program should be put in place as well. A good employee will take on a bigger workload if they are:

  • recognised for their achievements

  • compensated financially

  • rewarded by subtle changes in their work environment

Of course, it’s remarkable to see how far a genuine 'Thank you' goes - it tends to boost their confidence and incentivises them to work harder or even longer hours.

Passion Killers

A manager should always be on the look-out for special talents, knowledge or experience in an employee has talents, and should be able to reward the employee when they put them into practice for the benefit of the company.

Sadly, managers do exist who are frightened, jealous or intimidated by the employee's abilities and a tend to brush the skills they see, under the carpet and ignore them.

When a manager fails to see and recognise the talents exhibited by an employee, it’s chiefly because of an unwillingness because of

  • a personality clash

  • a fear that the employee will lose interest in the job at hand and their productivity will decline

  • a jealous nature or feeling threatened by their abilities

In reality, allowing people to pursue their passions has a different outcome and a manager’s fear of their employee ‘getting above their station’ is generally unfounded.

Several studies have shown when an employee is encouraged to use their talents, their work ethic and productivity increases – for the benefit of the company.

Why is this? Because the employee is happy.

Employee Burnout

An overworked employee can only ever be a tired and unenthusiastic employee.

Putting in more hours to help the company’s bottom line with no recompense, can be seen as a bit of a bullying tactic.

Overworking an employee can be counterproductive because an employee will begin to fail in areas they once excelled in if they feel under-appreciated or sense a lack of admiration for the input they have given.

University Challenge

One thing that managers tend to forget is that the brain is a muscle that needs exercising!

A good manager will offer their employees challenges by asking them to achieve things outside their comfort zones.

When a manager sets a mundane or unimaginative goal, the employee feels bored and becomes uninterested. When a good manager challenges the employee to rise above their own perceived capabilities and set high goals, the employee feels as though they've genuinely achieved something.

A good manager does everything in their power to help their employee succeed.

In summary, a good company is led by good managers. Managers who have been trained to understand employment ethics, as well as employee ethos and acknowledge the role of empathy. In other words, when the manager has the ability to connect to the employee's conscience and character with compassion, the employee will continue to work well and stay longer within the workforce.


Kaye Bewley MA

Author’s Bio:

Kaye is a freelance publisher, author and certified psychotherapist with over three decades of experience. She is also a writer for various blogs about writing, publishing, travelling and health care.

Feel free to visit her site, where you can sign-up to follow her on her various social media platforms.

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