Small businesses often start as solo operations, but as companies grow, owners may hire employees to handle day-to-day tasks so that they can focus on management. Companies with employees can experience attrition, which describes the loss of workers due to reasons other than layoffs and termination. Understanding common reasons employees quit their jobs can help managers take steps to retain workers.

Lack of Opportunities for Advancement

Employees who plan on working long term typically desire room for advancement within a company. For example, a new employee might have the goal of gaining more responsibility and rising through the ranks of management throughout his career. If the employee fails to achieve a promotion after several years of work, he may become discouraged. Workers who feel that they are stuck in the same position with no possibility to advance may quit and seek advancement opportunities with other companies.

Bad Managers

Bad supervisors and managers are a common cause of attrition. Employees who feel that their bosses don't respect them are more likely to have low morale and quit than workers who have good relationships with their managers. Managers who do not provide adequate support to workers or recognize employee accomplishments can cause attrition. In addition, if supervisors exhibit favoritism or simply lack leadership skills, they may fail to earn the respect of their subordinates and build employee loyalty.

Job Duties

Employees don't always know the exact tasks they will have to perform when they take jobs, and job duties can change over time according to the needs of employers. If a worker finds his job boring or simply doesn't enjoy the tasks he performs, he may look for other opportunities. In addition, if work tasks are physically demanding or dangerous, workers may quit in search of safer, less-demanding work.


Employees perform services with the expectation of receiving pay and benefits for their work. Employers that underpay workers or fail to provide job benefits are likely to experience higher levels of attrition than companies that offer competitive pay and benefits. Large companies can have an advantage over small businesses with respect to compensation, since they typically have greater bargaining power, allowing them to reduce the cost of providing benefits such as health insurance coverage.