Top 8 Reasons Why Employees Are Quitting Their Jobs This Year

This has been a big year for change in the employment sector. Let’s discuss why employees are quitting their jobs. A big part of it is as a result of the pandemic.

In the weeks and months that employees were stuck at home, they were forced to think deeply about their work lives and what they actually want. The result? Something of a work exodus. 

Microsoft conducted a survey of more than 30,000 global workers and found that that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions in 2021. We highlight 8 reasons why employees are quitting their jobs. 

A desire for flexibility

Seeking flexibility is one of the reasons why employees are quitting their jobs. A side effect of the terrible COVID pandemic was that more people were forced to work from home. And they saw that is possible.

In fact, research proves that some workers are more productive when working from home. The time, not to mention the money saved, from cutting out a long commute has pushed more workers to consider working away from home permanently.

The Microsoft survey found that that 46% of respondents were planning to leave their current jobs for ones where they can work remotely.

An increased quest for work-life balance 

Work-life balance has always been a top desire for many workers. It seemed that to be great at your job, your personal life would suffer. Or that to have a great personal life, your professional life would struggle. Come 2021, and a mind-set change is happening.

The new thinking is that work is important but that it has to support life. This has pushed workers to quit jobs where employers are unwilling to compromise and support a real balance. 

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Workers need a job where birthdays with ageing parents and school activities with children will not be missed to meet work deadlines. 

Lack of career development

Career stagnation has lead employees to quit in search of employers who are able to invest in their growth. Professional development is important to workers. It shows that employers value their staff. 

There are many ways to train staff; professional courses, conferences and workshops are some examples. However mentorship and shadowing are inexpensive ways to also offer training.

A lack of flexibility when employees find their own avenues for growth is also a sore point. If a boss is unwilling to open up an employee’s schedule so they can attend a series of trainings, they will seek an employer who will consider this a priority. 

Company culture

A failure to foster a positive workplace culture is yet another reason why employees are quitting their jobs in 2021. A culture where employees do not feel valued or trusted or one where there is no transparency can lead to disengagement of workers and even push them to look for a place where they can thrive. 

While some companies did not necessarily have a negative culture, failure to adapt it in light of the changes accelerated by the pandemic also led to an exit of staff. Areas like mental wellbeing have taken on even more prominence.

Companies like Accenture already had programs in place that prioritised mental health. In 2021, employees are seeking workplaces such as these, where such important areas are a part of the culture. 

Reasons employees are quitting their jobs

Image: Pexels


While productivity was on the rise for those working at home, it came at a cost. The blurring boundaries between work and home life led to situations where people were working a lot more.  That, coupled with the fact that there was nowhere to go to relax and recharge led to burnout. For those who could not get out of the sustained fatigue and burnout, quitting was the only option. 

Pay cuts

Cutting salaries in an already tough year is another reason why employees are quitting their jobs. Rather than continue to do the same job without any more benefits and a smaller pay cheque, employees are forced to seek companies that can make them better offers.  

A search for purpose 

During the pandemic and the long lock downs, employees were forced to stop and ask themselves some tough questions like ‘Is this what you want out of life?’ A man who had worked for 26 years in the food service industry decided to leave his job in search of something more fulfilling.

At 42, he was no longer willing to commit to 60 hour weeks at a job that had become increasingly more stressful. He left his job even when he did not have another job lined up. 

The pandemic also forced the workforce to pay attention to the state of the world. Wanting to do something meaningful to improve the world for themselves and future generations led to exits in some workplaces. 

Poor response by leaders to the pandemic

The pandemic brought unprecedented changes. Employers had to change systems and adapt very quickly overnight. This meant reorganising shifts, laying off staff, reequipping the workplace for safety. These were not easy changes to make and some employers fell short and were unable to properly support their staff.

In addition, some had limited capacity to keep workplaces totally safe. This served as a warning sign to others. Rather than contract the virus and risk infecting loved ones at home, some employees opted to quit their jobs.

Employers who did it well instituted robust employee assistance programs (EAPs). Such a program might include resources for mental health, counselling services and more to support the wellbeing of employees and their families. 

In Summary 

2021 has seen a big exit of workers from their jobs globally. And even when employees did not quit immediately, they had plans to.  According to a survey done in the UK and Ireland, 38% of respondents were planning to quit within 6 months.

Human resource is one of an organisation’s most valuable resources. When trained employees begin to leave, it destabilises everything from employee relations to productivity and customer care. It is therefore important for employers to understand why employees are quitting their jobs and implement tactics to mitigate the trend. 

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.