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Most Workers Who Leave Job Do So for Higher Pay

Tamara E. Holmes
Most Workers Who Leave Job Do So for Higher Pay

With the U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest point since 1969, the nation’s workers may be more willing to take a risk by leaving their jobs in search of a better one. Of those who do, new research suggests that most quit for higher pay, but other factors play a huge role in where they work next.

Compensation data provider PayScale surveyed more than 38,000 people who had looked for a new job outside of their current one. The aim was to determine what factors contribute to employee retention and why some employees choose to leave their jobs to work elsewhere.

The largest percentage of respondents — 25% — left because they wanted a position with higher pay. When it comes to other reasons given, 16% said they were unhappy at their current workplace, 14% wanted to work at an organization that shared their values, 11% were relocating, 10% were looking to move from part-time to full-time work and 7% wanted a promotion.

Those who worked longer for their current employer were more likely to quit in order to get a promotion elsewhere, perhaps because they believed they had hit a ceiling at their current jobs. In fact, respondents who had worked for an employer for three to five years were 15% more likely to quit for a promotion than those who had been with an employer for less than one year.

While only 2% of all workers cited wanting a more flexible schedule as a reason to quit their jobs, women were more likely to list this reason than men. In fact, female respondents were 11% more likely to leave their jobs to find one that offered more flexibility. In contrast, women were 8% less likely than men to quit their jobs for more money.

While money was the biggest motivator to quit for most, when it comes to choosing a new job, respondents had other priorities in mind. Twenty-seven percent said the main thing that attracted them to a new organization was the chance to do more meaningful work. That was followed by 17% who chose an organization for increased responsibilities and 16% who chose for more pay.

The study also found some differences based on generation. Baby boomers were more likely to quit because they wanted to work for an organization that shared their values than other generations. However, millennials were more likely than others to quit in order to get higher pay, and Gen Xers were more likely to quit because they wanted a promotion elsewhere, perhaps because many are at an established point in their careers and looking to be rewarded.

Most of us spend a good portion of our lives working, so finding a workplace that fits in with our biggest priorities can make a huge difference in the quality of our lives. When considering job opportunities, look at the benefits and other perks, as well as salary. Also, employ sound budgeting and savings strategies all year-round. If you’re in a better financial position, you can accept a job for reasons other than salary if you so choose.