The Real Reason People Quit Their Jobs

January 29, 2018

Pay attention to how your managers design employees' work. People don't quit a job, the saying goes—they quit a boss. But engagement survey results told a different story: departing employees said their careers were stymied and their jobs were dull or just not a fit for their lives any longer. And who's responsible for what those jobs are like? Managers.

Crafting Jobs for Enjoyment

Managers can play a major role in designing motivating, meaningful jobs. The best go out of their way to help people do work they enjoy—even if it means rotating them out of roles where they're excelling. Too often, managers don't know enough about what work people enjoy. It spills out in exit interviews—a standard practice in every HR department to find out why talented people are leaving and what would have convinced them to stick around. But why wait until they're on their way out the door?

Bringing in Underutilized Strengths

In a world dominated by specialization, we're long past the era of the Renaissance Man. Once in a blue moon we see one. Sadly, the narrow job descriptions that companies create stifle their ability to use the full range of their employees' skills.

Smart managers create opportunities for people to use their strengths. Creating new roles isn't the only way to let people play to their strengths. In a connected world, a huge part of getting work done is seeking and sharing knowledge. Some estimates suggest that knowledge workers spend more than one-quarter of their time searching for information. It's up to managers to help them figure out where to turn. As managers learn who knows what, they can connect the dots—or better yet, build a searchable database of experts. The goal is to put employees' strengths on display so that people know whom to contact.

Making It Possible to Lean in at Work and at Home

In too many situations, opening a door in our careers means closing one in our personal lives. The special project that takes date nights away from our partners. The big promotion that takes weekends away from our kids. The new role across the country that takes us away from our families.

People leave jobs, and it's up to managers to design jobs that are too good to leave. Great bosses set up shields—they protect their employees from toxicity. They also open doors to meaningful tasks and learning opportunities—they enable their people to be energized by their projects, to perform at their best, and to move forward professionally without taking steps backward at home. When you have a manager who cares about your happiness and your success, your career and your life, you end up with a better job, and it's hard to imagine working anywhere else.