Workers Rarely Jump Ship Over Pay Alone

News Analysis: We'll let you in on a little secret: the experts don't think that you really left your last job for more money.

It may come as a surprise to many executives, but workers arent leaving their jobs just because they are not happy with their pay, according to the experts.

Unless the gap between what an individual is making and the market valuation of their role is particularly wide, a higher salary might be the perk that sweetens the deal, but, in all likelihood, salary issues alone wont instigate a job change.

"I know for some people, its all about the money. Maybe their spouse has good coverage, so its not the benefits theyre looking for and they dont mind a long commute so they can just go for the best pay. But assuming a market rate is being paid, its not the primary reason people leave," said John Estes, vice president of the recruiting firm Robert Half Technology.

Research drives Estes argument home. In an analysis of 19,700 post-exit surveys and 3,179 comments for PricewaterhouseCoopers Saratoga Institute, released June 1, researchers found that the reasons employees left their previous job were strikingly different from what most executives believed them to be.

"Because in third-party exit interviewing, employees tell them things they dont want to tell their employer because they dont want to burn a bridge. Almost 90 percent had left for reasons other than pay, yet nine out of 10 managers believe that money was the reason people left," said F. Leigh Branham, a consultant in Overland Park, Kan., and author of the report.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read why some IT executives bounce from job to job.

Eighty-eight percent of departing employees cited reasons other than salary concerns for leaving their jobs, including that the job or work environment was not what was promised or expected, or that they did not feel challenged. Other reasons cited were a lack of feedback and coaching, feeling that their work was undervalued and being burned out or seeing no possibility for career advancement within the company.

Even more alarming, according to the Saratoga research, was the finding that the real reasons for an employees departure rarely got back to their managers or bosses. Although 93 percent of companies did exit interviewing, only 30 percent of those companies ever reported the results to line managers and executives.

"Why? I believe its because the exit interviewers intuitively understand that the reasons given are superficial ones, provided to avoid burning a bridge, preserve the possibility of a good reference or avoid an unpleasant situation," said Branham.

Neill Hopkins, vice president of skill development at CompTIA, an IT trade association, puts it more simply.

"If youre happy where you are working, would you leave for a 10 percent raise? No. If you werent happy, would you leave for 5 percent? Yes," Hopkins told eWEEK.

Next Page: Other factors matter more than pay.