Why Employees Look for a New Job (And How to Prevent It)

man at desk with sign that says i quit

For employers, seeing a rise in employee resignations and 2-week notices can cause nerves to flare.

Unfortunately, there are many reasons why employees look for a new job–especially in today’s period of ‘The Great Resignation.’

In fact, up to 47.8 million employees quit their current jobs in 2021 (yikes), according to recent research. 

Of course, it’s impossible to pinpoint each and every reason employees quit their jobs. However, there are common themes that repeatedly resurface when our market research company conducts Voice of Employee research for clients. 

In this post, we’ll cover a few of those key reasons: 

  • Low employee engagement levels 
  • Unhealthy culture 
  • No growth opportunities
  • Poor benefits 

And don’t worry–we’re not going to leave you hanging. We have some tips for employers losing employees that can improve these factors as well as pinpoint specific areas of opportunities for your organization.

Lack of Engagement 

In the wake of the great resignation, it’s key that employees feel engaged at their workplace. 

One of the top reasons staff quit their positions, is a lack of engagement or interest in a job leads to poor work performance and an unhappy work environment (more on that in our next section). 

Get this: just 20% of employees feel engaged–worldwide. That’s not a lot. 

Common reasons that cause a lack of engagement in the workplace include:

  • Little connection to organizational vision
  • Feeling stagnant in their current role 
  • Poor management and leadership
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of feedback and recognition
  • Inadequate pay
  • Minimal training and development
  • Excessive workload
  • Limited collaboration and teamwork

In order to combat this, employers need to understand what makes their employees tick, in a positive way -- but more on that later.

💡 The Key Takeaway: When an employee isn't feeling engaged at work, they have little motivation to perform well and lack a sense of belonging to their organization. As a result, people will look for new jobs where they can feel inspired and connected to.

Toxic Company Culture

Oof, this is a big one. Put simply, would you be productive if you were working in an unpleasant environment? 

Probably not. 

For employers losing employees, knowing if your company’s culture is “toxic” or not is essential in retaining employees. On the other hand, having a good company culture is a way to attract new employees, too. 

If you’re noticing employees are not putting in as much effort, lack enthusiasm, or have a consistently negative attitude, these are all signs your culture may be in the pits. 

If that’s the case, things can be corrected. 

Even simple efforts can go a long way in promoting good culture–below are some ideas: 

  • Hosting company parties
  • Company lunches/happy hours 
  • Making space for employees to share feedback 
  • Flexible work environment (more on that in the next section) 

These are just a few basic improvements a company can make to improve employee morale, thus improving engagement 

💡 The Key Takeaway: Improving your company’s culture is one of the most important aspects when it comes to keeping employees. Understanding their needs–as people–is necessary for staff to thrive. 

No Flexibility 

What do employees value most? Employer trust! 

Remote work was once a necessity during the height of COVID-19. Even in a post-pandemic workplace, remote and hybrid work schedules are hugely popular. 

Recently, research showed that up to 77% of employees feel more productive working at home, versus in-office. 

Here’s where trust comes in. When employers are able to trust employees will stay on top of their duties when working at home, hybrid or remote schedules can stick around. 

Why employees look for a new job could be due to a lack of flexibility when it comes to working location. While some jobs do require employees to be in the office 5 days a week, consider implementing a hybrid schedule for jobs that do not. 

If you’re wondering why employees prefer to work from home, a number of factors play into this decision. 

Here are a few popular ones: 

  • People may be able to focus better
  • No commute (cuts down on the gas, no driving in poor weather, etc.) 
  • Relaxing environment 
  • Ability to do chores, and other duties on lunch breaks

Work from home comes down to one thing: productivity. 

As long as your employees can meet deadlines and stay productive while working from home, consider keeping (or implementing) this strategy. 

Another interesting theme that has been proposed for the workplace is a 4-day work week, where employers work 10-hour work days Monday - Thursday. In a recent survey conducted by Drive Research, we found that 56% of U.S. employees want a 4-day, 40-hour workweek.

Again, it all comes down to workplace flexibility and trusting your staff that their job can be done even better when they are in control of their schedule and when/where they work best.

💡 The Key Takeaway: With work from home still as popular as ever, employers should consider implementing hybrid work options if they don’t already. Where employees are happiest (in the office or working from home) is where they’ll be most productive. 

Lack of Recognition 

For employers losing employees, they may want to look at how they treat employees. 

Is there no room for growth? Do employee achievements go unrecognized? Do you not keep track of employee achievements? 

If the answer to all these questions (or even one, in all honesty) is “yes,” it’s time to strategize how to make staff feel valued. When employees feel neglected over a period of time, they look for work elsewhere. 

When staff feels valued, they feel like working–and working well! Creating a product for a company–whatever that may be–is far more rewarding when you feel recognized. 

Think about employee core values–these can vary based on what field you’re in. No matter the field, however, staff will always thrive when they’re prioritized. 

Lucky for you, there are many ways to make employees feel valued. 

Take a look at some of our ideas:

  • Weekly/regular shoutouts for staff achievements
  • Room for growth/promotion
  • Regular/semi-regular staff check-ins (topics can range from workload to stress levels)
  • Training sessions for interested staff

Again, these are just some of the things you can do to highlight your employees. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: If you’re wondering why employees look for a new job, take a look at your staff recognition practices. Get creative with it–think of some fun ways you think your employees would like to be recognized. 

Recommended Reading: Improving Job Satisfaction: 8 Examples of Why Company Culture Matters

How to Prevent Employees from Quitting

It's simple: conducting employee surveys to determine high areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, and how those factors impact engagement and the likelihood to look for a new job.

While there are many factors that can impact why your team starts their journey of looking for a new job, the greatest way to understand the unique factors of your workplace is by surveying employees.

Employers need to understand what makes their employees tick, in a positive way. 

Any kind of employee engagement survey, when run correctly, is going to tell you what employees like about your company, and what they don’t. Moreover, you’ll be able to ask questions that target engagement levels specifically. From there, you’ll be able to adjust your leadership strategy to (hopefully) boost engagement again. 

The key metrics our employee survey company likes to measure include:

  • Employee net promoter score (eNPS)
  • Satisfaction
  • Co-worker relationships
  • Manager relationships
  • Workload
  • Compensation
  • Diversity and inclusion 

Take a quick look at our video on employee survey benefits for more information: 

💡 The Key Takeaway: There are many reasons why employees look for a new job. Conducting employee engagement surveys reveals important staff insight about their workplace. Most commonly done as online surveys, these will be emailed to your employees to answer. 

Recommended Reading: Using a Third-Party for Employee Surveys: Understanding the Costs, Benefits, and Process

Contact Our Employee Engagement Company 

As we all know, there are many reasons why employees may look for work elsewhere. Through the use of employee engagement surveys and additional evaluations, employers can hang onto staff. 

Drive Research is a market research company based in New York. Our team of research experts can help you design and implement a high-quality employee survey. 

Want to know more about our market research services? Talk to us! Reach out through any of the ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Lark Allen

As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.

Learn more about Lark, here.

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