30-something employees probably aren't leaving your company for the reasons you think

QuitRomboStudio/shutterstockWomen and men quit largely because they want better pay and fair compensation.

Women want babies and men want more money, right?

Both bide their time until their 30s, at which point they leave their companies in pursuit of the lifestyles they really want.

This assessment sounds plausible because it’s the one we’ve heard over and over again. But research reveals a different story.

According to a recent study published by the International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR) and highlighted in The Harvard Business Review, 30-something men and women don’t leave for the reasons their managers might assume.

As it turns out, women in their 30s are more likely to leave for more money than men in their 30s are.

Women’s top reason for quitting is finding a job elsewhere that pays more (65% of women cited this issue as a reason for quitting; they could choose more than one reason).

Meanwhile, men’s top reason for quitting is that there aren’t enough opportunities for learning and development (65% of men cited this issue as a reason for quitting). This finding jibes with recent research by Deloitte, which suggests that millennials leave their organisations primarily because they don’t see opportunities for leadership development.

To be sure, 54% of women cited wanting to spend more time with their family as a reason of quitting, while fewer men said the same — in fact, it doesn’t make the top five reasons for men.

Yet men’s and women’s top reasons for quitting their jobs overlap considerably. Men and women both cite insufficient compensation, lack of development opportunities, and lack of meaningful work as key factors in their decision to leave.

Writing in The Harvard Business Review, Christie Hunter Arscott, who co-authored the study, discusses how the findings apply to women in particular. She says it’s important for leaders to ask women why they’re leaving, instead of assuming it’s obvious.

Moreover, Arscott recommends that organisations consider pay and compensation fairness — and not just work-life balance programs — as strategies for retaining women in their 30s. In fact, she says, these strategies may help retain men as well.

Bottom line? Don’t presume women are leaving because they anticipate challenges balancing work and family. Instead, recognise that they’re leaving because they want much the same things men want: pay and fair compensation.

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