November 13, 2018

Why employees leave their jobs – and how you can get them to stay

Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent explores the factors that contribute to job satisfaction and loyalty as employees progress through different career stages. Here are some key factors that affect retention.

In the increasingly fierce fight for talent, organizations must learn how to engage employees at every career stage. To some degree, turnover is necessary and healthy. But for HR professionals, it’s crucial to understand what drives different segments of employees to consider jumping ship, even if they’re happy – and what it takes to keep a diverse talent pool engaged and performing at their best throughout their career.

Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent explores these retention factors. The report, conducted by The Nielsen Company, includes findings from a survey of 2,001 employees in North America about their relationships with their current employer, and their career plans.

When asked why respondents remain at their current job, a different range of priorities emerged. When respondents could choose multiple options, benefits were the commonly cited reason (30%), just ahead of pay (29%), their relationships with colleagues (28%), and job security (27%).

Diving in deeper, here’s a closer look at three key factors that were highly correlated with job satisfaction.

Download Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent to learn more about factors that affect retention


Providing a larger sense of purpose helps to drive not only loyalty, but also performance. That’s why it’s critical for employers to clearly communicate their mission, vision, and values to employees.

Among employees surveyed who say their company practices their stated values, 90% are happy (positive or extremely positive) in their job versus 52% who think their companies do not. The former plan to stay with their current company an average 8.4 years longer; the latter, only 5.9 years.

Whether an employee feels they are contributing to the overall business goals also has an impact. Only 51% of respondents said they feel they’re making an impact, but 92% of those who responded that way said they’re happy in their jobs.

This year’s findings are in line with Ceridian’s previous research, which found that high performing employees were more likely to work for companies that have clear values, and far more likely to know their company’s business goals.

From a retention perspective, it’s crucial for managers and leaders to clearly communicate company goals, as well as help employees understand how their work connects to overall organizational success as part of goal-setting.

“It comes down to the leadership, or the lack of it, that causes employees to feel a lack of purpose and empowerment,” says Ceridian’s Chief People and Culture officer, Lisa Sterling.

Work-life factors

The 2018 Pulse of Talent found that flexibility and non-monetary benefits both appear to contribute to overall job satisfaction. For example, 87% of respondents who can work from home feel positively or extremely positive about their company.

Given that 88% of people reported they are happy or at least neutral about their work, high percentages also indicated they are happy with their vacation policies (77%), benefits (72%), and work-life balance (70%).

Interestingly, perks – like fitness subsidies or free snacks – don’t seem to make the difference when it comes to job satisfaction. These things don’t actually drive retention, Ceridian’s Sterling says.  “We need to look at ways that really invest in the whole person, not the little perks that we offer.”


With employees placing greater value on non-tangible rewards, it’s no surprise that learning and development opportunities play a role in job satisfaction. Three-quarters of employees surveyed (75%) work at a company that provides resources for learning – anything from workshops and virtual webinars to attending formal classes.

Those who do work for such a company are more likely to feel happier with their jobs (83%) and stay longer (7.8 years) than those whose companies do not (58% and seven years, respectively).

In fact, 86% of respondents say it’s important for employers to provide learning opportunities – 51% say extremely so – including 91% of 18- to 24-year-olds, 93% of 25- to 34-year-olds, and 90% of 35- to 49-year-olds.

For more on these retention factors, and overall job happiness in different age groups, download Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent.

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

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