Better salary as the reason for leaving? Really ??

  • By -
Better salary as the reason for leaving? Really ??

Having done close to 185,000 exit interviews , it’s natural for me to believe that we at AceNgage have a fair idea of what is driving employee attrition.

So when I see white papers by leaders in the market stating that employees leave because of ‘better pay’ or ‘better career opportunities’, it makes me smile. They too had fallen in the trap of focussing on outcomes of leaving instead of identifying the real reasons

Picture this. Deepak 26 years, working in a leading IT company for the last 18 months, decides he has had enough. Deepak’s manager has not been supportive and and this is now started impacting his performance at work. While he thought he could manage, it had been 3 months now and things were only getting worse. Finally one day Deepak decides to quit. He uploads his resume on a popular job site, gets a few interview calls and finally one of the companies makes an offer with a 25% hike in salary.

During the internal exit interview, when asked why he was leaving the company, Deepak said that it was because the new company offered him a better salary. The HR executive captured the reason for leaving as ” better salary”.

The monthly attrition reports of the company indicated that, better salary, better role, personal reasons and relocation were the top reasons for leaving. There is only one problem, these are not reasons they are outcomes.

The reason for eg. in Deepak’s case was, Manager not supportive. Better salary was the outcome.


“As long as Organisations are not able to
distinguish ‘reasons’ from ‘outcomes’ it will
always appear that employees are leaving
because of Uncontrollable factors”


Only when companies have a clear understanding of the truth behind why employees leave, will they be able to address it.

The person conducting the interview should be able to make the employee comfortable and give him or her the opportunity to speak freely without fear of consequences . The focus during the exit interview should be on identifying the reason for leaving. Unfortunately, employees don’t want to burn bridges (which explains the increasing trend of outsourcing exit interviews) and since they have anyway decided to quit they find quoting the outcome an easier option. The HR partner tags it as an uncontrollable factor and the general perception gets built that employees are leaving because of higher salaries being offered by other companies. This unfortunately also has a demoralising effect on employees within the company. The truth, however is entirely different and in most cases would be a controllable factor.


“A simple measure to validate effectiveness of
internal exit interviews would be to check the
% of uncontrollable factors. Anything more
that 40% should be enough reason to suspect
what’s being captured”


I look forward to having your views, ideas, thoughts and perspectives.

3