Workplace surveys conducted by Manpower Inc. indicate that despite an economic slow-down, there has been a steady increase in the number of individuals who plan to look for new job opportunities. In 2010, the figure was 60%. In 2011, the estimate was 84%! As the year comes to a close, it will be interesting to note whether the trend continued, as well as predictions for 2012 and beyond. Whether the numbers remain consistent, 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. The cost of turnover will always be significant and on-going, despite economic conditions.
Yet, 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 view relates to the intangible workplace motivators. The highest priority ought to be on building and sustaining outstanding workplace relationships. If employers paid greater attention to developing a deeper understanding of the make-up of their teams, sought to meaningfully improve communication; as well as a create more informal opportunities for people to connect and share ideas at work, a happier and more productive work atmosphere would ensue. In a nutshell, organizations place an enormous focus on attracting talent. However, once on board, less attention is given to creating an environment where people want to stay and voluntarily contribute to the overall goals and objectives. In my experience working with businesses of every description, the reason many people become dissatisfied in their jobs is because being heard and acknowledged by management and co-workers is an ultimately lower priority than the work itself. At all levels, everyone feels the pressure of managing their daily workload. As a result, paying attention to the human element becomes neglected.
I recently worked with a highway maintenance company, presenting on the topic of improving workplace communication. During their weekend retreat, people privately shared ideas to improve productivity by having a different set of tools available on the job that could cut road maintenance costs by one third in their area. Yet, their crew has no influence on the equipment purchasing decision. From their perspective, they feel that their hands-on experience could immediately benefit their employers’ productivity and profitability. Meanwhile, the leadership team may have examined the business case for purchasing different equipment, although their findings or rationale isn’t apparent to the front line. Opening the lines of communication could make a significant difference. When organizations make the time to listen and create more opportunities for dialogue, miscommunication can be avoided, trust builds and relationships become stronger. In the absence of prioritizing greater connection between management and staff on a regular basis, the seed is planted for growing dissatisfaction in the workplace. Ultimately, a negative outcome may result in a potential loss of talent and experience that is difficult to replace.
Next blog: Why we stay: Ten strategies to improve workplace relationships