Employees quit. It happens all the time. People quit because they don’t like their boss, they feel like there is a lack of opportunity to grow or they’ve been offered a higher paying job. We know this.
However, new research by CEB, a best-practice insight, and technology company, sought to find out not WHY people quit, but WHEN they are most likely to quit their job.
“We’ve learned that what really affects people is their sense of how they’re doing compared with other people in their peer group, or with where they thought they would be at a certain point in life,” says Brian Kropp to Harvard Business Review, who heads CEB’s HR practice. “We’ve learned to focus on moments that allow people to make these comparisons.”
Based on the research, there are three key times when employees start to reflect on their lives and are more likely to quit their job:
1.Large social gatherings of peers: Job searching jumps 16% after events such as class reunions. It’s natural for people to compare their careers to others. If they feel like they have yet to meet their potential, they may be motivated to head down a new career path.
2.Milestone birthdays: Job hunting increases by 12% when an employee has a milestone birthday. When a person turns 40 or 50, they may start to look back at their body of work and have new motivation to look for something new.
3.Work anniversary: Job hunting increases by 9% after a big work anniversary. Work anniversaries naturally cause employees to reflect upon what they have done up to that point. If they haven’t moved up or grown professionally as much as they would have liked, they may start to look for a company that will provide them with those opportunities.
For some employees, their desire to look for a new job has nothing to do with their current job. Kropp says, “The big realization is that it’s not just what happens at work—it’s what happens in someone’s personal life that determines when he or she decides to look for a new job.”
This means that even if an employee is completely happy with their job, there may be little an employer can do to prevent them from looking for other opportunities.
Company leaders need to be proactive to prevent top employees from looking elsewhere. You can do this by being aware of these milestone dates, pay attention to employees who may be more likely to quit, work on improving overall engagement and culture, and take steps to show your appreciation to team members.
But, at the end of the day, if an employee has decided they want to quit, there may be little you can do about it. Even if you convince them to stay, they may still end up leaving a short time afterward. The research found that 50% of employees who accept a counteroffer from their current employer end up leaving within 12 months.
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Randy co-founded IQ PARTNERS in 2001 and currently operates as a Senior Partner, focusing on business development within executive search, media, and sales recruitment. His accomplishments include building over a dozen digital media sales teams for digital start-ups, publishers, and mobile app developers. He has also helped launch an international smartphone manufacturer from the ground up, building its entire hardware, software, and sales teams.