Workers Rarely Jump Ship Over Pay AloneBy Deborah Perelman | Posted 06-29-2007
It may come as a surprise to many executives, but workers aren't leaving their jobs just because they are not happy with their pay, according to the experts.
Unless the gap between what an individual is making and the market valuation of their role is particularly wide, a higher salary might be the perk that sweetens the deal, but, in all likelihood, salary issues alone won't instigate a job change.
"I know for some people, it's all about the money. Maybe their spouse has good coverage, so it's not the benefits they're looking for and they don't mind a long commute so they can just go for the best pay. But assuming a market rate is being paid, it's not the primary reason people leave," said John Estes, vice president of the recruiting firm Robert Half Technology.
Research drives Estes' argument home. In an analysis of 19,700 post-exit surveys and 3,179 comments for PricewaterhouseCoopers' Saratoga Institute, released June 1, researchers found that the reasons employees left their previous job were strikingly different from what most executives believed them to be.
"Because in third-party exit interviewing, employees tell them things they don't want to tell their employer because they don't want to burn a bridge. Almost 90 percent had left for reasons other than pay, yet nine out of 10 managers believe that money was the reason people left," said F. Leigh Branham, a consultant in Overland Park, Kan., and author of the report.
Eighty-eight percent of departing employees cited reasons other than salary concerns for leaving their jobs, including that the job or work environment was not what was promised or expected, or that they did not feel challenged. Other reasons cited were a lack of feedback and coaching, feeling that their work was undervalued and being burned out or seeing no possibility for career advancement within the company.
Even more alarming, according to the Saratoga research, was the finding that the real reasons for an employee's departure rarely got back to their managers or bosses. Although 93 percent of companies did exit interviewing, only 30 percent of those companies ever reported the results to line managers and executives.
"Why? I believe it's because the exit interviewers intuitively understand that the reasons given are superficial ones, provided to avoid burning a bridge, preserve the possibility of a good reference or avoid an unpleasant situation," said Branham.
Neill Hopkins, vice president of skill development at CompTIA, an IT trade association, puts it more simply.
"If you're happy where you are working, would you leave for a 10 percent raise? No. If you weren't happy, would you leave for 5 percent? Yes," Hopkins told eWEEK.
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