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What drives workers away and how to make them stay

Come and go

A study of 1,000 Australians has revealed the major cause of employees leaving, but interestingly, it is not the same factor that attracts them to a new workplace.

Recruitment firm Citrus Group commissioned the study to delve into what employers can do to retain their workers.

It found that a lack of career progression was the primary reason why employees left their last job, with almost one in four (22 per cent) citing this as their primary reason for handing in their notice.

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The next most common response (from 15 per cent of those surveyed) was an inability to work from home, while a further 9 per cent said they had no job flexibility at all.

Salary accounted for just 14 per cent of people leaving, while a poor culture (13 per cent) and lack of job incentives (7 per cent) were also cited.

Interestingly, while a lack of career progression drives employees away, it is not the prime motivator attracting talent to a new employer.

Those surveyed listed money as the most attractive element of any new role, with almost one-third (30 per cent) stating this was their primary focus when seeking out new employment.

Next was job flexibility (the key driver of 22 per cent), while career progression came well back in third place at just 14 per cent, closely followed by organisational culture at 13 per cent.

The option to work from home made an employer stand out for 12 per cent of respondents. The other most attractive factors were incentives (5 per cent), leadership (4 per cent) and additional leave entitlements (2 per cent).

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“It’s clear that Australians value things such as career progression, job flexibility and workplace culture alongside salary, when looking for new roles, signaling clear areas for leaders to improve on in their own workplaces,” said Paul Smith, joint managing director of Citrus Group.

“High staff turnover can be extremely costly for businesses, and so leaders should look to creating workplace environments that support staff retention.”

Mr Smith suggested that employers struggling with high staff turnover explore the following:

  • Offering job flexibility to staff
  • Fostering employee development
  • Creating an inclusive team environment
  • Building a culture of trust
  • Paying salaries that reflect market rates and are fair across the board
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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