Most HR practitioners and leaders of organizations would instinctively say that people leave because of the following reasons:

  • There are better opportunities elsewhere.
  • It is difficult to work here.
  • Never did fit in.
  • Poor management.

In a recent study of 1,100 employees, it was noted that 40% to 45% of the workforce is “at risk” of leaving for another job when the economy turns around. The other news determined in this study is that one third of employees are unhappy at work. Of this discontented group, 28% are actively looking for a new job or planning to leave.

What are their concerns? The top 5 in order were:

1. Workload.
2. Insufficient support by management.
3. Concerns about the future.
4. Lack of challenge.
5. Insufficient recognition.

While surveys provide us with a variety of challenging areas, some of which are controllable and others not, management can tend to the items within their control.

Why do people stay?
By taking proactive actions to improve job satisfaction, a supervisor or a manager can help reduce turnover and retain key staff.

Provide recognition. Never underestimate the importance of good, old-fashioned day-to-day feedback. Employees welcome the “pat on the back” for a job well done because the time taken for personal feedback is disappearing from many organizations. Regular performance reviews are essential communication tools to keep your staff informed and focused. People who are uncertain about where they stand with their current employer are receptive to the lure of another organization. Giving feedback, in a constructive manner, creates respect for the employment relationship.

Measure job satisfaction. To understand an individual’s general attitude toward his or her job, positive or negative, is vital in understanding the relationship to employee productivity, absenteeism, and turnover rates. The most common assessment tool in measurement is an employee survey, or through observation.

What defines job satisfaction?

In a nutshell, important factors conducive to job satisfaction include mentally challenging work, equitable rewards, supportive working conditions, and supportive colleagues. Commitment to and involvement with the organization and the actual job are also factors.

  • Mentally challenging work: Are there opportunities to use skills and abilities with variety of task, some freedom and constant feedback? Jobs with too little challenge are deemed boring, frustrating and can produce feelings of failure.
  • Equitable rewards: Employees want to work in a system that is perceived as just and fair. Are your promotion and pay systems policies meeting their requirements? While not everyone seeks a paycheque as the sole reward, the key is linking pay to satisfaction, which does not mean the salary paid but the perception of fairness. If these policies are perceived as just and fair there is likely to be greater job satisfaction.
  • Supportive working conditions: The working environment is very important in terms of safety, health and wellness. Physical comfort, location heating, noise and professionalism are all-important contributors. Ensuring that your environment is complying with all legislation and listening to employee complaints is important here.
  • Supportive colleagues: For many employees the opportunity for social interaction, with friendly coworkers and supervisors adds greatly to the dimension of job satisfaction. The supervisor’s role is a major determinant of satisfaction because of the direct impact this role plays with the employee. Whether there is praise, good listening skills, positive role modelling or a fair attitude, the supervisor will affect the satisfaction level.
  • Job Involvement: Employees with a high level of involvement strongly identify with and care about the kind of work they do. The person here identifies closely with their job title and the perceived value of their individual performance and contribution to the organization.
  • Commitment: Some employees identify strongly with the employing organization. Perhaps it is the mission or vision or value system of the organization. However an interesting development can occur: while the employee may be dissatisfied with his or her particular job, the employee may view this as a “temporary” condition due to high satisfaction with the organization as a whole and remain loyal. But when dissatisfaction spreads to the organization itself, the employee is more likely to resign.

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