Why Do People Leave Jobs?

Why Do People Leave Jobs?

During a recent talk at a conference, one of the speakers spoke about why people choose to leave jobs. I’ve read a lot of research about why people leave work. It might be because they feel undervalued or that they simply don’t enjoy their work. But the speaker put it to the audience that people don’t leave jobs – they leave bosses.

Original image remixed from Leremy pictures from Shutterstock

When I left my last full-time nine-to-five job it was because I was done with the place. But, when I think back, the key was a change in management that lead to a massive cultural shift in the organisation. So, even though, at the time, I felt that I was leaving a place I didn’t like I was probably leaving a manager that I didn’t agree with.

So, while I had a superficial reason, it was something deeper that really drove me. I often hear people say they left a job for better money but, when you really get into the nitty gritty and ask if they would have stayed for more money, they still would leave.

I’m curious. Why did you leave your most recent job? And if you’re quick to answer, take that reason away and ask if you would have stayed if that one thing had been rectified.


  • last employer wanted me to use my knowledge that i had learnt in a previous employer. Suggested my first change, they said it was too hard to implement. They then said i wasnt doing what they employed me for.

    I returned to the initial employer

    • Your comment is pretty average to say the least. Just because you can’t comprehend something doesn’t default it as wrong. Consider that the change in management meant a change to team dynamics which lead to a change in team attitude and perhaps managerial goals that disagreed with your own, which in turn made you stop believing in the team/company and left you no longer enjoying the work environment as you once did; so you leave. Was it because of the environment, or because of the root cause of the environmental change?

    • ‘Cultural shift’ can describe a change in workplace philosophy that directly impacts not only what you do, but how you do it, and that can be all that you need to start hating the work.

      When I moved into a broadband specialist role with BigPond, the work was fantastic. I was with a group of young IT nerds, and we were taking brand new manufacturer-unsupported equipment and we were breaking it so we could figure out how to put it together again.

      Over time, however, the management changed a few times and the cultural shift moved from providing great support to providing fast support. We lost a lot of people who weren’t replaced, those who were replaced were supplanted by unskilled lower-cost workers who needed more training, and the training was eventually reduced to a series of scripts instead of actual deep systems knowledge that would allow you to identify and improvise solutions based on knowledge instead of following a sequence of scripted steps. Management started specifically targeting ‘trouble-makers’ who pushed back against the new policies for trumped-up examples of performance failures, and a whole bunch of illegal things started happening, too.

      Essentially the change in management directly influenced a ‘cultural shift’. The culture of figuring things out, getting good solutions for customers, turned into one of numbers and pumping out calls, and handing off or postponing/stalling/ignoring anything that ran ‘too long’ regardless of whether it was fixed or not.

      There’s not really anything else that better describes that change.

  • Left the last job for exactly this – toxic new boss. Much happier now. But there are other reasons why people leave – progression, family commitments, money, opportunities. To each, their own.

  • I’ve been with the same employer for over 17 years and am now at a point where I am considering a change. In that time I’ve had several different positions within the company and overcome different challenges in vastly different fields, but the thing that always kept me there was colleagues and the fact that I’ve dedicated x amount of my life to this place and don’t want it to have been for nothing.

    Before reading this article I thought the reasons I wanted to leave were money and career progression, but now that I think about it those reasons are because I disagree with the way in which my team is managed. Not specifically my manager but who he reports to and who that person reports to. I work for a large (6500+ employees) company, and in reflecting on 17 years of service I realise that this thought process first started during the previous change in CEO leadership. Don’t get me wrong, the CEO has done an amazing job and is a fantastic leader, but I think that my future is no longer tied to this company and that for my career to progress I need to branch out elsewhere. This is partially due to being given the ability to develop myself, but also to the fact that under the current leadership I can’t not progress further without someone else leaving, and I can’t wait around for that to occur indefinitely.

  • Co Workers! Team member is a smug, arrogant little ass who deserves a smack in the head. Pretty nuts i’m looking to leave because of one junior.
    Looking to leave currently but not finding anything in my region 🙁

  • Yep, it was my boss. She’d been through 7 EAs in the 12 months prior to my hire. Her EA was also expected to be the receptionist, HR, IT, and finance department (company of 12). I lasted two years, and after I left they broke the role into 3 (receptionist, EA, and accounts). As far as I’m aware she’s up to her 5th in the 18 months since I left.

    • That’s the worst, I’ve heard that so many times.
      Someone is overworked in a role and not given any extra money, slack or value etc etc Just told to “do their job”. That person leaves and is replaced by 2-3 people.

      If they just paid that person a bit more and got one extra person then the workload wouldn’t have suffered and the people would have been happy. if the original person did leave then the second person would have been there for the handover ready to hire a new second person…. but no, let’s keep flogging the horse until it dies.

      • You are 100% right there! I had asked for a pay rise from 60k to 65k. They declined. The job I got (which was just one role!) paid 75k.

        Even if every one of those three roles was totally minimum wage, they still would have been paying a lot more than the extra 5k I asked for.

  • I’ve worked for and left 3 companies in the past, primarily for the same reason each time. They have brought in some new middle-management who was put in charge of my project/department/team having 1) no previous knowledge of our current project; 2) no rapport with the team; 3) tried to steer the project/team/organisation in a different direction based solely upon their previous experience in an unrelated company in an unrelated industry.
    In the worst case of this, there were several eligable team members who would have made excellent promotions to manage the team/project manager with good knowledge of the team, product and company goals. As it turns out the entire dev team quit with a year for “various reasons” and they were left with no-one who knew the existing code base or product after 15 years worth of development.

    My advice to employers – train and promote from within, then hire juniors to fill the skill/workload gap. Rinse and repeat. Good employees who are promoted and put in charge of projects that they started on generally hang around to look after their “babies”.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!