5 reasons why employees resign (and what you can do to keep them)

By Robert Half on 30 January 2023
Estimated Read Time: 2 minutes

Hong Kong’s Great Resignation brought to light a lot of areas of concern in the workplace.

According to the 2022 Cigna 360 Global Wellbeing Survey, nearly 90% of workers reported being stressed, while 19% found this stress to be unmanageable.

What’s more, over a third of employees in Hong Kong changed jobs in 2022.

The resignations we’ve seen over the past few years will likely continue unless employers can take the time to reflect on why their employees are resigning in the first place,” says Robert Half Managing Director of Hong Kong, Elaine Lam. “When we look at why people are resigning, we’re able to tweak our systems and our work environment to suit them — even if it’s as simple as making sure employees feel appreciated.”

At the end of the day, employees resign for a number of reasons, and it’s possible these reasons are outside your purview.

However, it is always worthwhile examining company dynamics routinely and, wherever possible, curbing their resignation or giving them reasons to stay.

1. Low Pay

It goes without saying that employees often equate their wages to how their employer views them. To gauge employees’ feelings, consider sending out an anonymous survey link.

Additionally, perhaps it’s worth considering how your pay stacks up against your competitors, what the current market rates are for the roles in your organisation, and real-world issues like inflation.

2. Feeling undervalued or disrespected

Beyond monetary compensation, employees need to feel emotionally and mentally compensated too.

Perhaps this is as simple as ensuring your team is working together respectfully, or perhaps it will take more thoughtful consideration as to whether all team members are being heard and valued equally.

For instance, several studies have shown that women are often ignored, or their points of view are coopted by male colleagues.

Beyond gender, other means through which employees might feel disrespected are on the basis of race, through sexual harassment or through physical violence.

Related: Why do resignation letters include an effective date?

3. No career growth opportunities

Although this also comes down to job satisfaction and employees’ personal goals, a lack of growth opportunities within the organisation will likely causes employees to look for roles elsewhere.

Stunted career can be in the form of promises for promotions that are not delivered on, or this might just be due to stagnation or plateauing, where the organisation simply does not have a new level for the employee to climb too — something that can often be demotivating.

For this reason, having one-on-one conversations about what growth looks like to each employee is essential — perhaps they’re aware that a plateau is near, and are willing to compromise by staying loyal in a consultant or freelancer role, for instance.

This is an opportunity to talk to your company's HR and senior managers to discuss what future career pathing options can be made.

4. Poor work-life balance

An increasingly common reason for employee resignation nowadays is burnout.

According to the same 2022 Cigna 360 Global Wellbeing Survey we referenced above, an estimated 97% of Hong Kong employees believed they were burnt out.

While each company, or even each team, defines work life balance differently, employees themselves define what ‘work life’ balance looks to them.

Whether it’s flexibility in schedule or working hours, or encouraged Paid Time Off (PTO), or simply honouring their off-work hours by not calling or emailing, it’s important to have these conversations with your employees directly.

Related: 5 ways to help your staff have a work life balance in Hong Kong

5. Toxic or unhealthy work environment

Lastly, it’s possible that your employees find the job, the company culture, or their workspace toxic or unhealthy.

Toxic work culture is the number one reason employees resign. This can look like a combination of the factors mentioned above — expecting employees to be on call 24/7, unconsciously creating a work culture where over-working is acceptable, not fairly compensating them, or creating a fear-soaked atmosphere where results matter at all costs.

If you’re uncertain as to whether aspects of your work environment are “toxic,” or need additional help managing toxic elements, a workplace advisor might be able to help.

Are you facing an employee shortage? Get in contact with Robert Half.

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