Lack of advancement opportunities top reason good employees quit

If top performers feel that the next rung on the career ladder appears out of reach, they may decide to move on, a new survey suggests. One-third (33 per cent) of executives interviewed said good employees are most likely to quit their jobs because of a lack of advancement opportunities. Unhappiness with management was the second most common answer, cited by 31 per cent of respondents.

The survey was developed by Robert Half International, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with 100 senior executives across Canada.

Executives were asked, "Which of the following is most likely to cause good employees to quit their jobs?" Their responses:




Limited opportunities for advancement



Unhappiness with management 



Lack of recognition



Inadequate salary and benefits



Bored with their job



Other/don't know









"Helping top performers reach their professional goals is essential to retaining them," said Michael Gooley, branch manager for Robert Half International's Toronto operations. "If ambitious employees don't foresee growth potential, their companies risk losing them to other opportunities."

Gooley added, "If the current business environment is hindering the ability to offer a promotion, managers may consider rewarding high-potential employees with professional development opportunities and projects to help expand their skill sets."

Most employees who are looking for a new job will send out warning signals. Robert Half identifies the following five red flags for supervisors to be aware of:

1.  A noticeable change in attitude. A formerly enthusiastic staff member may seem withdrawn and indifferent. In addition to examining the individual's performance, look for changes in behaviour in team settings.

2.  Longer lunch breaks and frequent absences. This may be a sign that someone is using the time for job interviews. It also could indicate the person is bored with the work.

3.  Missed deadlines and increased errors. Everyone misses a deadline from time to time, but apathetic workers make it a habit - one that can throw off the efficiency of an entire department or company.
Numerous errors from a previously conscientious employee are a sign of disengagement and may signal lost interest and an impending departure.

4.  More professional attire. An employee who shows up for work wearing suits even though your company has a business casual dress policy may be going on job interviews with other firms.

5.  A drop in productivity. A decline in performance or work quality and increased forgetfulness about deadlines, meetings and appointments could indicate a worker who is gradually disconnecting from the job.

Robert Half also recently issued survey findings that show employers' greatest staffing concern is employee retention (

Robert Half International has more than 360 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search services at