They say people join companies and leave managers. At Enigma HR we talk to a lot of people when they are looking to leave their jobs. While we’ve found this to be generally true, it's a pretty simplistic statement. So we thought we’d explore some research to dig deeper behind what makes people unhappy at work.
We've found some inspiration in some unusual places.
1) You have ignored their development – paying no attention to your staff is actually worse than negative attention.
Read this assertion from Tom Rath and Jim Harter – the authors of “Well Being – The Five Essential Elements.”
“The most disengaged group of workers we have ever studied are those who have a manager who is simply not paying attention.
If your manager ignores you, there is a 40% chance you will be actively disengaged or filled with hostility about your job. If your manager is at least paying you attention – even if he is focussing on your weaknesses – then the chances of you being actively disengaged go down to 22%
If your manager is primarily focussing on your strengths, the chance of your being actively disengaged is just 1%.”
2) You didn’t have them at hello – you neglected them during the critical first 120 days of their employment
According to employee attachment expert, Anthony Sork – the first 120 days of your new employee’s employment are critical to whether they bond with you as a manager, and your organisation. By this we mean whether they feel security, trust and value, acceptance and belonging. There are 20 different drivers to your employees’ attachment that you’ll need to consider. These include the professionalism of the recruitment process, the time of the recruitment process, right through to communication around your company’s values. Read this piece for what you might inadvertently be doing wrong to breach your employee’s trust from day one: and this on how you can tell if your employees are secure.
3) They are happy with their salary then they find out what other people are earning.
People are weird when it comes to money. You may have made them an offer. They accepted, and in your mind the deal is done.
Not so fast…
If that person thinks they’re earning less than their peers (not necessarily their workplace peers), then that seems to present a problem.
Again, the authors of “Well Being – The Five Essential Elements” have some interesting observations:
“Consider the following two scenarios, and assuming the same purchasing power in both, which one would you choose?
A: An annual income of $50,000, while people around you earn $25,000 a year
B: An annual income of $100,000 while people around you earn $200,000 a year
Using a classic economic model, everyone should choose an income over $100,000 over $50,000. Instead nearly half the people presented with these options pick the lower salary of $50,000 a year.
They chose to make half the income as long as it is double the income of their peers.”
4) You ignored their request for change, until it was too late
Counter offers do not work.
In our experience by the time an unhappy employee marches into your office and hands over the resignation letter, it’s already too late. You will have had plenty of chances to rectify the situation. Ignore them at your peril. Read this earlier post on why this is so.
5) You’ve neglected to think about the impact of your employee’s friends and family
While you may know that people’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected, you may not know by just how much.
What’s interesting about this study is that your friends’ friends can actually influence your happiness. If a friend of your direct connection is happy, then the odds of you being happy increase as well. You don’t even need to know that person or have contact with that person to be influenced.
While mindful of employee’s privacy, from a management point of view a good question to ask is “is everything all right with you outside of work?”
So what do we make of all of this?
You need to be proactive in managing your teams’ employment experience. As we said earlier, the impact of paying no attention is profound.
Are you confident that your retention strategies cover all bases?
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