Why we leave? Why we stay? Commitment to the workplace

Workplace surveys conducted by Manpower Inc. indicate that, despite an economic slowdown, there has been a steady increase over the past two years in the number of individuals who plan to look for new job opportunities. Even if the trend reverses, the impact of workforce mobility and knowledge transfer on organizations cannot be understated. The most common reasons cited for leaving or thinking about leaving a job relate to overall job satisfaction, relationship with one’s immediate manager or supervisor, and low morale.

As a business owner, you will soon discover that there are underlying reasons for turnover that are less obvious and have little to do with team members achieving a sense of professional fulfillment.  The emotional and financial cost of employee departures, whether voluntary or otherwise, will always be significant and ongoing, despite prevailing economic conditions.

The solution lies in preventative maintenance. Organizations could avoid the burden of rehiring if they realized that much of the “pain” is self-induced. While it is true that some aspects of an employee’s decision are outside of an employer’s control, the most neglected area of focus in my experience relates to the intangible workplace motivators.

The highest priorities ought to be building an atmosphere of trust, open communication, and creating outstanding workplace relationships. Research conducted by The Conference Board indicates that in North America, job satisfaction has been on the decline for years. In all age categories, the level of satisfaction is below 50%.

If employers paid greater attention to developing a deeper understanding of the makeup of their teams, seeking to meaningfully improve communication, and creating more informal opportunities for people to connect and share ideas at work, a happier and more productive work atmosphere would ensue.

Why do employees and managers at all levels stay in a workplace long-term? In a word: “atmosphere.”

People feel highly motivated and engaged at work because they never have to second guess whether senior leaders and business owners are aware of their contribution to the overall success of the business. The workplace culture is inclusive; happiness is a critically important intrinsic and extrinsic value.

In my experience of helping businesses of every description develop an outstanding culture, the reason many people become dissatisfied in their jobs is because being heard, valued, and acknowledged by leadership is an ultimately lower priority than the work itself. At all levels, everyone feels the increasing pressure of managing their daily workload. As a result, paying attention to the human element slowly becomes neglected. Yet, this is precisely the issue that necessitates the greatest consideration. In addition, it is fascinating to note this is the one area that is within an organization’s control: the atmosphere within its own walls.

Michelle_Ray-WEBMichelle Ray is Leadership Strategist & Founder of Lead Yourself First Institute.  She will also be leading an afternoon workshop at NLOWE’s 2013 Annual Conference entitled, “Creative leadership solutions to increase employee retention and engagement for business leaders.”  You can “Like” Michelle on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, connect with her on Linkedin, follow her Blog, watch her videos on YouTube, or check out her website.


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