Don’t Leave!! What Do You Want? — Key Concepts for Retaining Employees (It’s easier than hiring new ones)

August 21, 2006 11:19 am Published by

One of the biggest headaches for employers and managers is the process of finding new employees. Employee hiring takes a lot of time and emotional energy and most managers are not trained in the process. Add to this scenario the fact that there is a shortage of quality employees in a number of fields. For example, in a recent article in CFO (August 2006, Have CPA, Will Travel?), it is reported that there is are not enough accountants to go around for businesses in the industrialized world.

Business owners tend to panic when they feel one of their key employees is dissatisified, or if they hear the employee is “looking around”. The reaction can be so intense that the manager will sometimes go and say, “What do you want? I’ll give almost anything for you to stay!”

The problem is this is the wrong approach. Business owners and managers need to understand why people choose to leave their current position. And it is rarely because they are not getting enough of something (money, prestige, influence, control). Rather, people leave their current job because of something that is really bugging them (and it occurs repeatedly).

In understanding job satisfaction, you need to know that there are two major variables — job satisifiers and job dissatisfiers. Satisfiers are those positive aspects that reward us — salary, bonuses, a nice office (a window!), prestige, 3 weeks vacation, quality support staff, etc.

Job satisfiers are those factors that we look for when we are searching for a job. They are what we want. And they make our daily work worth working for.

But business owners and managers need to understand that it is the job dissatisifiers that drive people away. Dissatisfiers are those characteristics of the job setting that we dislike — how far we have to commute, the coworker that irritates us, a lack of responsiveness from one department in the company (that is critical for us to complete our job successfully), a lack of follow through on commitments made by management, unrealistic expectations for lead time to get projects done, and so forth.

When the daily experience of a job becomes loaded with painful experiences — that is when an employee starts looking around for a different place to work.

Most people don’t like change. And they will try to “stick it out” in their current situation as long as possible. But if they see no hope for change and their daily work is full of negatives, they will change to get away from the pain.

But the problem is most managers and employers try to get the employee to stay by solving the wrong problem, they try to give more positives. They don’t see (or hear) the negatives that need to be addressed.

It is like this — if you have a tack in your shoe that hurts every time you take a step, eating some ice cream doesn’t take away the pain. You may really like ice cream, and generally appreciate the offer to have a bowl of mint chocolate chip. But you would prefer taking out the tack first. No amount of ice cream will make that pain go away.

The principle is the same at work — it doesn’t how much you pay someone (ok, to a point), what their new title is, or what office they get if you don’t deal with the issues that are creating pain for them, you aren’t really dealing with the real issue.

So, managers, supervisors and business owners if you have a key team member that is dissatisfied and you are concerned about losing them, have a chat with them about what they don’t like about their job, their daily work and experience. Then, commit to do all you can within your power to resolve at least one of those issues (if you say you will and you don’t, they are gone.)

Then, we you have removed the tack in their shoe, offer them some ice cream, too.


Published by
August 21, 2006 11:19 am

1 Comment

Leave a Reply