There is a big gap between why top employees say they’d consider leaving an employer, and why employers think they leave.

Managers like to say employees leave companies because of bad bosses or lack of career growth. A new report suggests money is more likely the reason. In a survey of about 1,100 U.S. employees, 71% of top performers listed pay among the top three reasons they would consider leaving their employer.

The findings are in a report scheduled for release by human resources consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide and human-resources association WorldatWork. Harris Interactive helped conduct the employee part of the survey. The surveys also found employers underestimate the retention value of health-care benefits.

The results suggest employers don’t fully understand the needs of their top employees, frustrating companies’ efforts to battle turnover as the labor market improves. “Employers have probably gotten caught up in this myth that employees leave their managers or they leave for better opportunities,” says Laura Sejen, director of strategic rewards at Watson Wyatt. “Perhaps we’re being a little unrealistic about the fundamental element of rewards, which is pay.”

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