Lack of Work/Life Balance, Trust Are Deal Breakers for Workers

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Don’t feel trusted and empowered by your boss? Expected to work or answer e-mails during a sick day or vacation or after work hours? These are among the top two annoyances most likely to push an employee toward the nearest exit, according to findings from an online survey that Utah-based BambooHR conducted June 2014 with 1,034 full-time U.S. employees.

Rounding out the top five “breaking point” issues:

  • A boss who shifts the blame to employees when things go awry.
  • Lack of workplace flexibility for workers’ family responsibilities.
  • Not getting along with co-workers.

While career advancement, work/life balance and money typically are the reasons people leave one job for another, these five issues are the proverbial last straws—more so for some types of employees than others, BambooHR found.

Lack of empowerment, for example, is more of a breaking point for people in the workplace who have college degrees than those who did not continue their education beyond high school. It’s also more of a sticking point with non-managers and was cited as a deal-breaker by 80 percent of workers ages 30-44.

Women are less likely to tolerate working weekends, during vacation and beyond office hours than their male counterparts. Limited fringe benefits are more of an issue for workers ages 45-60 and older. Those over 60 stop caring as much about money; only 8 percent would quit because of what they saw as an unfair salary. However, among workers ages 45-60, a belief that their salary is lower than they think it should be would be a definite reason to leave.

“Drill down to who your employees are,” advised Ben Peterson, CEO and founder of BambooHR. “Map that to your employees and their expectations for meaningful work.”

He also advised organizations to consider what advancement looks like to its employees. Millennials as a group, for example, don’t buy in to the notion that they have to work 80 hours a week in order to move ahead, while those age 45 and older are more accepting of putting in long hours, the survey found.

“What does advancement really mean?” Peterson asked. “What does it mean in New York vs. South Dakota? A best practice for one [area] is not a best practice for another. We need to be thoughtful [about] how we engage our employees and give them that happiness factor.”

That includes considering how to provide meaningful work and growth opportunities for employees, he added.

BambooHR also found that while employees want to get along with their fellow workers, they aren’t looking to be best buds or spend their weekends together.

“People really value their work/life balance,” Peterson said. “Yes, it’s important to have those relationships … but ultimately people do have their own lives to lead” and don’t want to feel pressure from the employer to hang out after hours with the gang from work. 

The survey also unearthed niggling situations that are not serious enough to send an employee packing but did register high on the “considerably annoying” scale:

  • The employee or the team knows more about their industry than the manager (cited by 82 percent).
  • Lack of recognition (82 percent).
  • Co-workers who are promoted faster than their colleagues (78 percent).
  • Subpar benefits (74 percent).

This data, Peterson said, gives HR professionals “a reason to think about the relationship with their employees and to know there’s a real dollar figure” at stake in failing to retain good employees.


Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News.

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