Lack of Career Advancement Main Reason Workers Consider Leaving

By Kathy Gurchiek Feb 29, 2008
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Workers thinking about moving on most likely don’t see opportunities for advancement at their current employer, according to a recent survey of North American workers.

Nearly one-third (29 percent) of 3,330 workers cited lack of career advancement when consulting firm BlessingWhite asked them to rank the most important factor that would influence them to change employers. Other, less important reasons included:

  • Desire for change, 14 percent.
  • Unsatisfying work or work that doesn’t make the most of their talents, 14 percent.
  • Desire to earn more money, 14 percent.
  • Job conditions, such as the commute and lack of flexible schedule, 10 percent.
  • Dislike of manager, 9 percent.
  • Organization’s mission conflicts with employee’s values, 5 percent.
  • Economy and a belief there are better jobs available in one’s field, 3 percent.
  • Dislike of colleagues, 2 percent.

Conversely, top drivers for influencing an employee’s plans to stay:

  • Enjoyable work, 34 percent.
  • Significant development or advancement opportunities available, 15 percent.
  • Good job conditions, such as a good commute and flexible hours, 14 percent.
  • Belief in organization’s mission, 9 percent.
  • No desire for change, 9 percent.
  • Expect desirable salary, bonus or stock option in 2008, 7 percent.
  • Commitment to manager, 4 percent.
  • Economy; doesn’t think there are other opportunities elsewhere, 4 percent.
  • Strong relationships with colleagues, 3 percent.

High-risk employees—workers who aren’t committed to their organization and are likely to leave within two years—are at an all-time high in the United States and outpacing “truly loyal employees,” HR News reported Sept. 4, 2007.

Employees ambivalent about their employer are a major segment of every workforce, noted Christopher Rice, CEO of BlessingWhite. The New Jersey-based firm conducted the survey in December 2007 and January 2008 and released its findings in February 2008.

He called those employees “essentially opportunistic.”

“They want to pursue their interests and goals,” he said in a press release, “but aren’t dissatisfied enough to take action. From a practical standpoint, employees can often satisfy their need for career growth, change or better use of their talents with a current employer, but it’s not always obvious to them how they might do so.”

The manager, he noted, “is in the right position to influence the performance and [employee] satisfaction.”

That requires talking with those employees to help them “get what they need and to get aligned with what the organization needs from them.”

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at kgurchiek@shrm.org.

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