Why Employees Quit: The Only Number You Need To Know: New Resilience Statistics & Facts

Employee stat cartoonWhat is the difference between a frustrated employee and an employee who is so unhappy that they actually start looking for a new job? How can people make their employees more resilient?

Looking for a definition on resilience? Read our article all about what resilience means here!

To find out more, we conducted new, original research to look at what the key drivers of employees actually starting to look for a new job are.

We polled 500 employees across a wide variety of industries to understand:

    • Are you happy/unhappy/looking for a new job?
    • What made you so unhappy that you started to look for a new job?

Our survey gave one overwhelming answer – a lack of control.

This is part of a series of polls we have carried out. The other ones can be found as follows:

  1. Time Management Statistics
  2. Management Statistics: What Employees Want
  3. Assertiveness Statistics & Facts

If you are looking to become more resilient yourself – check out our resilience courses here!

Key Takeaways

How often someone feels out of control at work predicts whether they will start looking for a job with over 90% accuracy. 

The more often someone leaves work feeling out of control, the more likely they are to look for a new job.

  • 43% of employees, who are looking for a new job, leave work every day feeling that their work is not under control.
  • 66% of employees, who are looking for a new job, leave work 4 or 5 days per week feeling that their work is not under control.
  • 80% of employees, who are looking for a new job, leave work 3 or more days per week feeling that their work is not under control.

By contrast, 77% of happy employees feel that their work is under control the majority of the time.

Research & Statistics – Why Employees Quit

As part of our research, we asked employees how often they left work feeling that things were under control.

The results are contained in the graphs below.

The link between how often an employee feels that their work is under control and how likely they are to be looking for a new job is direct.

The correlation between the two figures is over 90% for this graph. 

Leaving Employees - How Often Feel Undercontrol

By contrast, while happy employees do feel that their work is out of control, they don’t do so often.

It would appear that when employees feel out of control for the majority of the time (3 days per week or more) then the stress that that generates will drive them to look for a new job.

Happy Employees - How Often Feel Under Control At Work

How Does This Fit With Research?

Our finding is a piece of empirical evidence of a link between control and the intention of leaving a job.

Does this match with other findings?

The short answer is yes, as there is strong research that links feelings of control with lower stress and higher resilience.

There is also well-established research linking increased stress levels with an increased intention to quit a job.

In the sections below, we look further at the individual pieces of this chain.

The Link Between Control & Stress

The link between a feeling of control and stress is well established in numerous studies (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3).

People who have an internal locus of control feel that they have agency and a degree of control over events in their life suffer less stress and anxiety than people with an external locus of control.

The difference in their way of perceiving events leads to different ways of reacting to events. 

People experiencing the same challenging set of circumstances can deal with them proactively, seeing them as a chance to grow and develop, or passively, as another example of life being unfair. Some people view failure as a learning experience and part of life. Others view it as a catastrophe that they won’t be able to recover from.

Guess which one finds failure more stressful?!!  

The Link Between Stress & Resilience

The link between stress and resilience is also very well established.

People who find life’s challenges less stressful are more resilient.

It doesn’t matter whether they naturally have a positive outlook or they use techniques to cultivate a positive mindset when things are hard, the result is the same. They are able to keep going when things are tough and find a way through their difficulties. 

The Link Between Resilience And The Intention To Quit A Job

All jobs have their ups and downs. It is how people deal with them that is crucial.

People who find the downs very stressful are more likely to struggle psychologically, and also far more likely to quit for obvious reasons.

Conversely, people who show good resilience can find ways to thrive despite the challenges they are facing are far less likely to quit, conversely.

Final Thoughts

Although intuitively it makes sense that employees who consistently feel out of control are more likely to leave, it is interesting to see how strong the correlation is.

Obviously, this link merits further work, as this was a relatively small study.

Looking for more on resilience? Read our guide to the benefits of gratitude here!


About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training. He writes about SQL, Power BI and Excel on a number of industry sites including SQLCentral, SQLshack and codingsight.