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Should I Stay or Should I Go?
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Managers play an important human resources role. They hire, support and direct staff. As a manager in homeless services, it is important to understand common reasons that people stay in or leave their jobs – and the high costs of losing employees. This article also includes an exercise for managers to use to assess staff satisfaction.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Understanding why people stay in or leave their jobs is critical to reducing staff turnover—one of the most costly events in any organization.

Estimated costs of replacing a single position vary.  Replacing a front line employee can cost from 25% to 80% of that worker’s annual salary.  Costs of replacing specialists range from 75% to 400% of annual compensation!  Across all positions, average replacement costs are 33% of salary plus benefits (which average 30%). This means that replacing a single employee earning $50,000 will cost the organization $21,450.

Eight Reasons Why People Leave Their Jobs (alphabetical)


  1. Compensation. Inadequate pay or benefits
  2. Co-workers.  Dissatisfaction or problems with co-workers
  3. Fit. Mismatched skills and job expectations
  4. Leadership and Management. Problems with supervisors
  5. Shock events.  Being passed over for promotion, receiving an unexpected job offer.
  6. Training and Professional Development. Limited personal and professional development opportunities
  7. Uncontrollable circumstances. Illness, a spouse’s job relocation
  8. Work/life balance.  Overworked/inflexible schedule

In Gallup surveys, inadequate pay or benefits accounted for 22% of the reasons for leaving. Lack of career advancement topped the chart at 32%. Lack of fit to job was 20% and dissatisfaction with management or the general work environment was 17%.

Dissatisfaction with management comes in many forms.  A common refrain in the field of human resources is that “people leave managers, not companies.” Typical management problems range from perceptions of unfair treatment to a lack of clear communication:
  • Feeling unrecognized/devalued
  • Lack of coaching and timely feedback
  • Lack of trust/respect/caring
  • Unfair treatment
  • Lack of support and facilities needed to perform effectively
  • Lack of communication/unclear expectations
  • Opinions discounted/workers unable to influence decisions that affect their jobs
Reasons People Stay in Their Jobs

Some researchers have suggested that the reasons people keep their jobs are not necessarily the opposite of why they leave. Rather, they relate to the connections employees make between their jobs and communities.  Gallup has confirmed the importance of these connections as well as other organizational factors. They report that “disengaged” employees have higher rates of absenteeism. They also average 31% to 51% more turnover than “engaged” workers. Levels of engagement were defined by the following:
  1. I know what is expected of me at work
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job right
  3. At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
How About Your Staff?

Try using this list with your staff members. Ask employees to score each of the statements above as a 1, 2, or 3 where:
  • 1 is always
  • 2 is sometimes
  • 3 is never
The results will provide important management clues. Once you identify areas to be strengthened, you can better support your staff and keep them engaged!

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SAMHSA
2009
Rockville, MD
617-467-6014
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