By: Suzanne Ostrander
Despite America’s less than ideal economic state and an average unemployment rate of 7.8%, the United States department of Labor has reported that each month over 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor has classified these unemployed individuals as the “Quits”: employed individuals who leave their jobs on their own accord without a fallback plan. The bureau has furthermore reported that this number continues to grow and will not be declining anytime soon.
A recent study by Accenture reports that 31% wish to be their own boss, An additional 31% feel a lack of empowerment, 35% leave due to internal politics, and 43% resign due to a perceived lack of recognition.
As I reviewed these stats, many of the percentages seemed to overlap one another. In the context of a job fair, if we sat the 31% who were affected by a lack of empowerment at the same table as the 43% who resigned due to a lack of recognition, I think these people would have many of the same things to talk about. In essence, they lacked a healthy sense of identity in their workplace.
Countless numbers of research studies have yielded a variety of factors that may contribute to this debilitating lack independence. My shortlist comes down to two factors: 1) A lack of employee focus and 2) Poorly structured organizations.
I think the first category speaks for itself. We’ve all heard the phrase “the customer is always right”. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to argue that anyone with experience in the fast food industry has likely formed a deep-seated aversion to the concept, altogether. Unfortunately though, in the context of a company’s relationship with its clients, this is typically a wise ideology to follow.
But what about the larger network between managers, customers, and the hardworking employees who make the magic happen? In the overall scheme of things, “putting the customer first” while overlooking the worker bees can lead to an unfortunate sense of employee neglect.
The solution? Companies who establish a reasonable balance between customers and their employees will foster a more successful and productive business.
Successful managers should also keep in mind the importance of staying objective. Let’s face it, we are all human beings and most likely resonate better with some than others. That doesn’t necessarily mean we dislike the others, we just have less in common with them. From a managerial standpoint, however, the fact that you work for the same organization is enough to have in common. For a number of reasons, managers need to act and socialize differently than their subordinates. Namely, they need to pay close attention to the amount of “down time” they spend in people’s offices- this is important! You are not at a cookout or on the golf course, and your behaviors may need fine-tuning.
As difficult as it may be, a good manager does not “gravitate” to only a certain few offices to chat during down time. Is “small talk” OK at our jobs? Absolutely! In fact, it is encouraged in moderation in order to maintain a healthy working environment. Yet, before you accept that higher-paid managerial position or a promotion to such a level, think about what you should do when you get the urge to socialize during the workday. A reasonable goal may be to walk around to all of your subordinates’ offices once a day in a casual, non-work related manner and spend a minute or two just to see how they are doing. Of course, it may not be possible to achieve this everyday, but bear in mind how much this is done every week and take action to keep this at a healthy balance. Conversation topics may vary, but the time spent in offices should not. Is this tedious? Yes, it is! However, it comes with the territory when accepting a managerial position!! So, before you accept that higher paying role, think about your social habits from a leadership standpoint. There’s no shame in staying at the subordinate level if you don’t think you’re up to the task. A worker-bee can hang out with whomever he wants!
The second factor, a poorly structured organization, can do just as much if not more damage to the overall employee persona. While a company’s inadequate focus on its employees might result from a manager’s need to simply re-prioritize tasks or modify his social work habits, a ineffectively structured organization may derive from your boss’ boss or even higher. When one person is expected to manage 12 – 15 employees on a daily basis, these subordinates are bound to feel overlooked or under-worked. With only 8 hours in the average workday, a possibly well-intentioned manager has no choice but to follow the priority chain when it comes to delegating work. The result? Under-stimulated employees!
How can this be changed? To begin with, managers need to speak up!! Managers should take time to schedule meetings with their bosses to discuss reassignments. Consider promoting qualified individuals to management to even out the numbers. Formulate a plan and stick to it.
I challenge all of those in management positions to try these techniques. I believe it will lead to happier employees, a more successful company, and an ultimately reduced turnover rate!
As always, remember to encourage excellence with everyone you meet!
For Forbes.com’s article on reducing company turnover, click here:
Click below for a brief video segment on reducing employee turnover by maintaining the quality within an organization: