“Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find
A better place to play"
Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis(click here for the song)
Personal photo taken by my daughter.
A few days ago a client seemed preoccupied at the beginning of the coaching session, after a bit of probing he explained his conundrum. ‘My best direct report put in her resignation this week and I’m devastated. I offered her a pay rise, all sorts of perks but I can’t seem to convince her to stay. I thought I was a good boss .. what have I done wrong?’.
Why do people resign from their jobs?
Bored with the industry, career, or organisation
Career progression opportunities appear easier to access externally
Insufficient appropriate professional development
Despondency with the strategic direction of the organisation
Desire for greater flexibility
Lack of challenge
Interesting, some recent Australian research indicated that millennials have the highest level of turnover, in excess of 50 per cent. This may be in part because they are more open to technological and other workplace changes than older demographic groups.
Why do people stay in their jobs?
“the answer to the (seldom asked) question of why people stay may well have been the vacuous opposite of the reason for turnover, that is, because they like their jobs and don’t have some place else to go.”
Lee, Burch, and Mitchell
Regular readers would be aware of the common reasons why people stay in their jobs and the confounding impact of people's fear of change. Recently in an attempt to retain employees, researchers have begin to study the phenomenon of embeddedness. This is the extent to which an employee is “stuck,” or enmeshed, within a firm or a larger social system. It is derived from many external (or contextual) forces, these include:
Connections to other people or activities;
Compatibility between their job, and community and all other aspects in their life;
The strength of these links or the magnitude of the consequences if they are broken or lost.
Interestingly they found that occasionally there are forces that promote loyalty to a profession not an organisation. These include: industry contacts, involvement in professional societies, compatibility with occupational demands and rewards, human capital investments, and occupational status.
"But since you been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I'm so moving on, yeah, yeah
Thanks to you
Now I get what I want
Since you been gone"
Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson (click here for the song)
Are there benefits of turnover?
New employees often bring fresh ideas and perspectives, which may increase innovation. They may be better aligned with the strategic and goals of the organisation enabling faster changes in culture. Changing the mix of skills the workforce should enhance market competitiveness. Financially, there may be a reduction in the financial risk associated with large leave balances or outdated remuneration policies.
Resignations enable career advancement opportunities for others and often improvements in morale and productivity if the employee was disgruntled, and or underperforming with outdated skills.
Finally, whilst it may not be clearly apparent, sometimes there is a huge sigh of relief from colleagues, peers, and stakeholders when someone resigns.
“you’re going to miss me when I’m gone”
Since U Been Gone by Lukasz Gottwald and Karl Sandberg Martin (click here for Anna Kendrick's version of the song)
So what about my client?
My client realised that “at the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s about her and the business. She always wanted to join a start-up, which we are not. It’s time for her to spread her wings and maybe one day in the future we will work together again.”
My client reflected that it is never a good idea to convince someone to remain in a job they have decided they do not want. In addition, the resignation was a prompt for him to elicit more feedback on his leadership capability and to reconnect with his direct reports and see how they were tracking.
What about the downsides to turnover?
Despite all that I have written above, regular readers would be aware that there are often many negative consequences of employee turnover. Therefore, it is always beneficial to take time to understand whether staff are being pushed or pulled out of the organisation and determine the long- and short-term causes and impacts.
References: https://www.ahri.com.au/media/1222/turnover-and-retention-report_final.pdf Hom, P.W., Lee, T.W., Shaw, J.D. and Hausknecht, J.P. (2017). One hundred years of employee turnover theory and research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), pp.530–545. III, E.E.L. (n.d.). Rethinking Employee Turnover. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardlawler/2015/07/21/rethinking-employee-turnover/?sh=29b952fa7e69 [Accessed 26 May 2021]. ScienceForWork. (2018). Employee Turnover: An Evidence-Based Approach to a Thorny Issue • ScienceForWork. [online] Available at: https://scienceforwork.com/blog/evidence-based-employee-turnover/. William Lee, T., Burch, T.C. and Mitchell, T.R. (2014). The Story of Why We Stay: A Review of Job Embeddedness. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1(1), pp.199–216.