Glass half empty or glass half full? When it comes to employment numbers, it all depends on who you ask. After months, make that years, of reports on unemployment and a still-sagging economy, a recent article in BenefitsPro.com put a new twist on the story. The article titled Workers Quit as Economy Improves suggested maybe the economy wasn’t as dire as once thought as an increasing number of workers voluntarily choose to leave their current job.
Quantifying the Departure
For years, human resource departments have tracked turnover in terms of employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The tracking tool of choice is often an exit interview where HR personnel attempt to track why people are leaving. Considering the percentage of turnover is much smaller than the percentage that stay, why does turnover remain the information-gathering tool of choice?
The quality-versus-quantity disparity was covered in depth by Dr. Charles Hughes of the Center for Values Research. The Dallas, Texas-based employee relations consulting group questioned if low turnover equates to the happiness of employees or if individuals remained despite dissatisfaction with their role and/or the company. Dr. Hughes maintained employees stay for positive and negative reasons. Positive reasons include job satisfaction and a good work environment. On the flip side, some employees remain (to the detriment of themselves and their company) because it provides the needed salary, benefits and/or location that fits their lifestyle.
Why People Leave
In the political world, people often talk of satisfaction when it comes to judging the effectiveness of a particular person or their policies. When times are good, people are more likely to answer in the affirmative, equating personal improvement with outside forces. Within the work world there is also a correlation. Employees who find similarities in the values of their employer with their personal values are more likely to remain satisfied in a job. When there’s a discrepancy, employees search for other opportunities.
When looking for a reason to stay in a job, employees cited the necessities of enjoying the work and the need for a job that fit into their lifestyle, according to a survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association. Both of these desires came before pay and benefits. This need for an emotional connection may come as a surprise to employers who still function under the “they’re lucky to have a job mentality” that tends to pervade periods of economic depression.
Changing the Mindset
At its core, every business wants good employees. When good people leave it not only leaves a void in the business, it also sends a message to those who remain that the business doesn’t care to retain good employees. Rather than looking for answers through the revolving door of turnover, why not tap into the current workforce to find out the internal (work-related duties, leadership and co-workers) and external (schools, neighborhood and community) reasons they want to stay?
Tips to Assess Workplace Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction
- Attitudes on company and leadership
- Confidence in company initiatives and leaders
- Exploration of salary and benefits
- Methods for performance evaluation and advancement opportunities
- Defining job satisfaction and a quality work environment
This article is brought to you by Staffing Kansas City, a full-service Kansas City employment agency that provides contract-to-hire, direct hire and temporary employment placement services.