By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
Much of today’s conversation, in business circles, is why people are leaving their jobs. A recent Forbes article by Jack Kelly emphasized the point with a compelling title – “We’ve become a Nation of Quitters”. Facts back up the engaging title. For example, 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September. You and I have read about why there is a Big Quit or Great Resignation happening today.
Most of us have heard the common themes around why people quit their jobs. Some say they are taking a breath and reevaluate their personal goals. Working mothers, and some fathers, have juggled home schooling and corporate responsibilities, leading to decisions to quit their jobs to focus on family needs. Once many had a taste of remote work, there was a burning desire to keep working remotely. This didn’t sync with company culture so they left. on. There were community tensions as well, including but not limited to DEI, environmental, and governance issues. Leaders, rather than quelling stress and tension, are exacerbating the issues.
Another perspective – I recently met with a young man who I will call John. John is a talented guy. He is a recent UGA grad and has many excellent skills. He works for a big company whose policy is to work remotely out of an abundance of caution. John is planning on quitting because he feels isolated and blocked from any real growth-potential in respect to accelerated learning, building a network, and associated advancement. John’s story represents yet another reason why people are quitting their jobs in growing numbers. There are thousands of reasons why people quit, and a relatively equal number related to why they stay. I will devote the next part of this article to focus on the nation of stayers, by telling a story about a fictitious woman named Sally.
Let me paint a portrait of the happiest of employees. Take Sally. She greatly respects her boss. She also loves her work and feels she is contributing to not only the company but to the greater good. Her co-workers are supportive and one of her favorite parts of her job is the collaborative way everyone works together to optimize results. Sally is interested in advancement and her internal mentor has recommended a path for her advancement. Sally has been provided with an external coach. She credits her empathy and emotional mastery advancement to her coach. Coaching time has also been spent on the accountabilities she has as an employee. The company spends a good bit of time focusing on expectations. They measure results through KPIs, performance standards and through team and individual goals.
The company spends an equal amount of time on understanding the pulse of its employees through such things as engagement and satisfaction surveys. There are open forums for brave conversations around such topics as inclusion and equity. Sally’s supervisor wants to her employees to speak up to let her know about the challenges they face and or how to optimize opportunities. That is a cultural norm throughout the company.
There are fun opportunities as well. Sally particularly liked the team building excursion where her team went white water rafting. Sally has a 6-year-old girl and is a single mom. She has appreciated that leadership allowed her to work from home and was more than sensitive about the flexibility required to balance her job and family life. Now that her daughter is back in school, she has moved to a hybrid model where she is back in the office twice per week.
Finally, Sally appreciates that “her” company (she does feel ownership) is not only balanced between the hard and soft side of the business but they are also innovative. It’s a company on the move and she feels like she is a pilot, a co-pilot, and a passenger as well. Oh yeah, the money is pretty good too. She could jump ship and make more but it’s not only about the money. It would take a stick of dynamite to uproot Sally from a job and a company that she loves.
Why do people stay? They love their jobs. How come they love their jobs. Because the company has built a culture of integrity that balances respect and responsibility and it’s on the move.
Let’s not state the obvious around why people leave their jobs. It’s up to leaders to build a culture of people that are proud of their work and of the people in their company. They may not own the company from a financial standpoint but they take ownership personally and professionally because it’s like family.