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Why Do Employees Stay?


by American Psychological Society

Work-Life Fit and Enjoying What They Do Top the List of Reasons Employees Stay on the Job, New APA Survey Finds

American Psychological Association

Despite uncertainty in the job market, the top reasons working Americans say they stay with their current employers are work-life fit and enjoying what they do, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA). Fewer employees cited concrete reasons for remaining on the job, such as benefits, pay, and a lack of other job opportunities.

The Workforce Retention Survey, which was conducted among employed adults age 18 and older, examined the factors that contribute to employee retention. Although 60% of working Americans said they remain with their current employers because of benefits and 59%reported staying because of the pay, more than two-thirds (67%) said they choose to stay because their jobs fit well with the other aspects of their lives. The same percentage said they stay at their current jobs because they enjoy the work they do. Even with the slow economic recovery and relatively high unemployment, only 39% of respondents cited lack of other job opportunities as a reason for staying with their current employers.

“Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work and, as such, they want to have harmony between their job demands and the other parts of their lives,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it’s no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Today, top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that’s part of a rich, fulfilling life.”
The survey also found differences based on gender and age.


  • More women than men cited both work-life fit (72% vs. 62%) and enjoying the work (72% vs. 63%) as reasons they stay with their current employers.
  • When it comes to relationships at work, women were more likely than men to say they stay with their current employers because of their coworkers (55 percent vs. 48 percent), their managers (46% vs. 34%), and their connection to the organization (59% vs. 53%t).
  • Smaller differences were found between the percentages of women and men who reported staying at an organization because of the benefits (61% vs. 59%), the pay (57% vs. 62%), and their job giving them the opportunity to make a difference (49% vs. 52%).


  • Working Americans age 55 and older were the most likely to cite enjoying the work (80%), work-life fit (76%), benefits (66%), feeling connected to the organization (63%), and having an opportunity to make a difference (57%) as reasons for staying with their current employers.
  • Employees ages 18-34 were least likely to say enjoying the work (58%), work-life fit (61%), and benefits (54%) keep them on the job, but the most likely to endorse coworkers (57%) and managers (46%) as reasons to stay.
  • More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents ages 35-44 cited pay as a reason for staying at an organization, higher than in any other age group.

For employees who said they plan to stay with their current employers for more than 2 years, the biggest drivers of expected tenure were enjoying the work, having a job that fits well with other life demands, and feeling connected to the organization.

About the Survey

The Workforce Retention Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between Aug. 3 and Aug. 7, 2012 among 1,240 adults age 18 and older who reside in the U.S. and are employed either full-time or part-time. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Data for the poll were collected using an omnibus survey. More information and full results of the survey are available here.

About the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program is an initiative designed to promote employee well-being and organizational performance. The program consists of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards; support of local programs currently implemented by 56 state, provincial, and territorial psychological associations; and a variety of resources for employers. Organizations interested in learning more about creating a psychologically healthy workplace or applying for an award in their jurisdiction can visit the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program website.