A New Study Finds Bad Managers Aren’t the Reason Employees Quit

by Evil HR Lady on November 14, 2017

Good management is important. We all know this. In fact, multiple studies have shown that not getting along with a manager is often the strongest influence on employee engagement—and eventual departure. Or, at least, that’s what we thought.

According to new research from IBM on why employees quit, the old HR adage “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers” is being called into question. After surveying 22,000 people, IBM found out the following:

  • 14 percent leave because they are unhappy with their manager
  • 40 percent leave because they are unhappy with their jobs
  • 39 percent leave for personal reasons (e.g., spouse relocation, child care, health, etc.)
  • 20 percent leave because they are unhappy with the organization
  • 18 percent leave due to uncertainty in the organization, following a change

To keep reading, click here: A New Study Finds Bad Managers Aren’t the Reason Employees Quit

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria Rose November 14, 2017 at 4:10 pm

You covered five basic reasons people leave jobs. Yes definitely today’s job atmosphere is pretty toxic, between companies trying to find over-squeeze productivity and fellow employees who skim by with little effort with no reaction from management, people quit.
The big question in this article, is how the company reacts to turnover whatever the reason. Bad management sometimes can be addressed if that particular issue effects company in a bad PR way. Bad job situation gets more iffy because sometimes one has a job just to earn money and because it is not the “dream job” the person is unhappy. If the company has been following a toxic “ workaholic “ ethnic, as shown by the changing Japanese companies, where the people had been working long hours with no increased productivity, certain people would find this hazardous to their home environment. We also have a trend with younger generations of workers who have a bigger emphasis on social life versus actual work life so realistic work situations would tend to be les tolerated.
As to problems with childcare, this is a nationwide problem, especially since the USA has done nothing for helping parents coordinate work and family and childcare is still not developed and subsidized enough for working parents. You could write articles on how inadequate this problem is. The whole situation comes down to the value companies place on their employees beyond how the cost of having employees effected profits.


Steve November 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm

I wonder if we all read the same article?

From the article:
The survey asked “What would make you leave your current organization for a new job?”

For better compensation and benefits is the highest, 77%.


BethRa November 14, 2017 at 9:25 pm

I’d love to go back and look at the study in depth. Hanging turnover on individual managers probably isn’t warranted, but bad manageMENT? If we take a deeper look at the 40% of people who are unhappy with their jobs, and the other 20% who are unhappy with their organizations, I imagine bad management plays into both. What is allowing toxic employees to run roughshod over colleagues but terrible management practice?


jdgalt November 15, 2017 at 2:22 am

Am I the only one who noticed that those numbers add up to 131%?


James November 16, 2017 at 11:26 pm

No. I caught it to.

The issue is, these are not separate factors. Managers certainly are part of the organization, and problematic managers can create organizational issues. Similarly, a bad manager can make people unhappy with their jobs. I’ve worked on different projects, doing the same job, and some are fun while others are brutal–and the managers make the difference.

The conclusion that the rest of the institution shouldn’t be left off the hook is still valid. But I think these statistics are very, very shoddy.


Evil HR Lady November 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Sorry. I should have responded earlier and I really should have clarified in the article.

People could choose multiple reasons for leaving, which is why it adds up to over 100 percent.


Steve November 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm

The only reason I ever leave is because of money. After a few years of almost invisible raises against a backdrop of constantly more expensive health insurance it becomes obvious that I’m not moving forward in total compensation.

Money is always greater than 90% of the reason for me.

I see higher level managers constantly trying to avoid the money issue. They want there to be some other reason than money because they want to keep the money.


Wintermute November 28, 2017 at 5:51 am

I am taking this with a massive grain of salt, a veritable salt boulder, because I think a lot of these issues stem FROM a bad boss or bad management practices.

Those that leave because they’re unhappy with their manager left for just that reason, they’re a “gimme” here.

Of those that leave because of generalized unhappiness, with their jobs or the organization, how much of that is because their boss won’t or can’t make their job easier, can’t effectively manage, causes them personal stress through their management style (my main source of stress up until recently was a complete lack of feedback, every performance review, of which most were skipped, was a total surprise as to both time and content), or other reasons that good management could mitigate?

Of those that leave because of change and uncertainty how many of THOSE would have stayed had management provided better clarity, set clearer roadmaps, and otherwise managed through change better. Sure change is inevitable in any field (mine is exceptionally fast-paced as far as such things go) but some managers handle it better than others. Are the employees supported or are they thrown to the wolves? are expectations adjusted realistically to ensure that no one is being held to an unmeetable bar? Is there training and time given for it or are employees expected to fumble forward in perpetual ignorance? Is change done by a well-ordered plan executed by management or is it eternal panic mode?

Of all these reasons, there are really two: bad working conditions and personal reasons. Bad bosses are the source of many if not most of the bad working conditions on some level.


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