People don’t leave jobs because they want to, they leave because they don’t have access to opportunity

With more people leaving their jobs than ever, organizations are battling a triple whammy of growing attrition, short turnovers, and increasing options for their employees elsewhere. Throw in a global pandemic, remote work, and a ‘Great Resignation,’ and it’s little wonder it’s a job seeker’s market. 

The latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in November, an “all-time high.” Forty percent of people surveyed by McKinsey said they’re at least somewhat likely to quit their job in the next three to six months.

The big why behind growing attrition

While this certainly isn’t good news for employers, it’s all about understanding why your people are leaving. According to Pew Research, 63 percent of employees in the US left their jobs in 2021 due to a lack of opportunity. Elsewhere, a McKinsey report shows employers overlook ‘potential for advancement’ as a key factor in why their people leave. 

Employers assume reasons for leaving are around ‘looking for a better job’ or ‘inadequate compensation’, rather than considering the big impact a lack of career opportunities poses to an individual. 

Employees want to know they’re being invested in, not just now but as their career develops. Without access to opportunity — whether it’s a promotion, review of their role, side-step into a transferable role, learning and development courses, or being able to be reskilled into something completely different — they may feel stuck and undervalued, leading to them leaving. 

And unlike previous economic downturns, this time, people are leaving jobs without another role lined up. This signals that attrition is poised to get even worse. The same McKinsey survey found that 36 percent of employees who had quit their job in the last six months did so without having a new job in hand.

“By not understanding what their employees are running from, and what they might gravitate to, company leaders are putting their very businesses at risk.” – Mckinsey

The answer lies in investing in the career growth of your people

So here’s the thing – your people don’t actually want to leave. But without investment in them and their future career growth, they’re left with no choice but to look for greener pastures. 

A lack of development and career opportunity outweighs all the culture in the world, every time. And without investing in identifying your people’s skills and opportunities, you’re likely to continue watching them leave. 

The good news is that instead of watching more great people walk out the door, workforce visibility over people and their skills can make all the difference. A recent Harvard Business Review piece says that “employers must take a data-driven approach to improving retention.” So, let’s bring in the data.


  • Workforce intelligence platforms — enter Reejig — enable you to collect and understand your people’s skills, experience, and potential, all in one place. This skills intelligence can help predict where your people might be best suited for a meaningful career with you now, and in the future.
  • Reejig’s Workforce Intelligence shows you leading indicators to accurately understand departments and employees poised for growth, predict future skills shortages, and understand what skill sets make up your workforce. You can predict who’s at risk of resigning and identify opportunities for learning and development. This means planning for the future proactively focusing on reducing attrition before it happens.
  • Reejig’s Career Co-Pilot delivers your people personalized career coaching and available career pathways within your organization based on their skills, potential, and passions. Showing them they have more than one pathway goes a long way to building loyalty and investment.

Taking a skills-based approach, mixed with flexible career pathways shows them the opportunity they have and helps builds loyalty, lowering attrition rates. This also goes for reskilling and redeploying people into new career paths entirely. Communicating your investment in your people early on — as early as recruitment — is crucial.

Career opportunity tips to retain your talent ecosystem:

Gaining an understanding of the true potential of your people is a great way to start when it comes to reducing attrition due to a lack of – or perceived lack of – opportunity. It’s a good thing that your people don’t want to leave. Now it’s up to you to give them the career investment that’s worth staying for.

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