The factors that give workers the most satisfaction vary between men and women and also between age groups, according to a study by the American Business Collaboration, (abcdependentcare.com) a consortium of seven corporations. They polled nearly 2,800 salaried and hourly paid men and women from large and midsized companies. The study found that after salary, work/life balance was the most important job factor to salaried men in joining their present company, whereas learning and growing was the most important factor for salaried women.

For people less than 30 years old, the key factor to job satisfaction after salary was advancement for male respondents, and for women it was meaningful work. In their 30's, the characteristics changed so that after salary, the key factor for men was flexible work options, and for women a work/life balance. In their 40's, salaried men wanted job security after salary, and women felt an opportunity to learn and grow was important after salary.

"This study is the first time we're able to see detailed information about men and women at different stages, and the reasons why they would consider leaving a company," says Betty Purkey, manager of Work/Life Strategies for Texas Instruments, an ABC member company. "Being able to make smart, strategic changes in response to these findings is critical to retain talent and becomes a win-win for both the company and employee."

Why do employees leave jobs? According to the survey, 49% of men and women say that salary is the most important factor in being satisfied with their work, and 25% of those employees are seriously thinking about leaving their current job for more money. Following salary, 20% of workers say that job security is the most important factor, and 20% of them would seriously think about leaving their company for better job security. And, although only 9% of those surveyed say that advancement opportunity is most important to them, 41% of that group would seriously consider leaving for enhanced advancement opportunities.

According to the study, the lack of both career development and advancement opportunities dissatisfies employees the most, followed by their salary and inability to fully use their abilities.