Why So Many People Stay In Jobs They Hate


By Rieva Lesonsky

Given the extra work that many employees have been shouldering for the past few years, combined with the lack of raises, perhaps the results of a recent Accenture survey shouldn’t be surprising: More than half of employees responding were dissatisfied with their jobs. 

What is surprising? Even as the economy picks up, just 30 per cent of respondents said they plan to look for jobs elsewhere. Instead, 70 per cent of women and 69 per cent of men said they plan to stay at their current company. (Though I just wrote about another survey conducted by MarketTools that indicates nearly half of all Americans are thinking about leaving their jobs.)

Why are employees dissatisfied? Top reasons were:

  • Low pay (47 per cent of women, 44 per cent of men);
  • Lack of opportunity (36 per cent of women, 32 per cent of men);
  • No chance for career advancement (33 per cent of women, 34 per cent of men).

Given these factors, why are they staying? 59 per cent of women and 57 per cent of men say they plan to gain additional experience and seek career advancement in-house, rather than looking elsewhere.

“We’re seeing an unanticipated workplace dynamic,” says Adrian Lajtha, chief leadership officer at Accenture. “Today’s professionals are not job hunting, despite expressing dissatisfaction.  Instead, they are focused on their skill sets and on seeking the training, the resources and the people that can help them achieve their goals.”

How can your company be a leader? Aside from better pay—which you may not yet be in a position to provide—the top things employees are seeking at their current workplace were:

  • New, challenging assignments (44 per cent of women, 48 per cent of men);
  • Flexible work arrangements (39 per cent of women, 34 per cent of men); and
  • Leadership positions within their companies (22 per cent of women, 28 per cent of men).

Lajtha suggest companies should support employees by listening to their needs and “providing them with innovative training, leadership development and clearly-defined career paths.”

Hearing that employees are dissatisfied can get a small business owner’s ire up. But there’s definitely a silver lining here. “There’s still a sense of commitment to take action with their current employer,” notes LaMae Allen deJongh, the author of the study and Accenture’s managing director for human capital and diversity. “We interpret that as an opportunity.”

How will you take advantage of that opportunity to keep talented people with your team?

From Small Business Trends: How Can You Help Your Unhappy Employees – and Should You?

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