With employment rates in Ireland at record levels, it’s now an job-seekers market. So, when you finally find the right person, why do others leave? Why are we constantly hiring to replace people these days?
Throughout my working life I have seen the cycle of treatment from Irish employers. During the past 2 recessions, employers could behave like tyrants, and staff put up with it. Obviously performance wasn’t very good, but attrition was low. When the economy recovers, employers change their styles and start to appreciate the people around them, afraid of losing them and realising that loyalty doesn’t mean people stay.
Our people have changed over the years, and we’re lucky to have such a talented workforce to choose from. And no, these people will not put up with the old-school antics of the ‘they should be happy they have a job’ employers.
So, why do they leave? More money perhaps? LinkedIn surveyed hundreds of Irish workers and asked them why they would leave their jobs. More money didn’t make it into the top 3.
- 45% of people stated that it was due to lack of career advancement,
- 39% wanted more challenging work and,
- 33% didn’t like a bad work culture.
Yes, money is always a factor, but people generally don’t want money for nothing – we all understand that if we advance in our careers or undertake more challenging work, we should get rewarded. And remember, you will never get paid in advance for doing a job – you need to ‘do first, get paid later’.
Well, you should anyway, but I know it doesn’t always work out that way. If you don’t get rewarded for your efforts, move on. There are organisations out there (or just people in those organisations) that take advantage of loyal staff and expect them to remain loyal – stand your ground, ask for what you believe you deserve, and if not forthcoming, don’t complain….just move on!!
As a manager, providing career advancement is one of the most important parts of your role. Yes, not everyone wants to advance, and not everyone wants to be a manager, and yes, some people like to continue to do as they do, but those who desire to advance should be encouraged. And for those of you worried about people leaving after you have encouraged and supported, let’s remember 45% were going to leave anyway if you did nothing. That’s a lot of people leaving your business. In my previous role, I had the pleasure of supporting a number of people advance their careers in the business, and none of them left. In fact, they have all become excellent managers and I had found myself learning from them over the final few years of my time there. If you like the ‘win-win’ expression, which I’m not a great fan of, there’s an example of it.
So, how do you do it? The first step is to ask. Ask what? Ask your people what they want to achieve. And do this regularly. It’s not good enough asking at the interview where they see themselves in 3/5/7 years, and then forgetting about it. They may not know so don’t be selfish. Introduce them to other parts of the business. They don’t just need to grow within your specific department, and if they do leave to go to another, think about the ally you now have in that other department.
And keep them informed. Don’t just ask, and then ask again, and again without following through. Sometimes it’s not possible to provide advancement into certain areas, so be honest.
More Challenging Work
Doing the same thing over and over doesn’t suit all of us. It does for some, but not for me, and not for a lot of people. Those who like to do the same things again and again are probably not reading this, so let’s not waste too much time on that. Mind you, if they are, they are probably doing a loop of the first paragraph right now and won’t make it this far down the article.
Our minds and abilities need to be challenged for us to progress and advance in both our professional and personal lives. We are all still learning whether you like it or not. At time of writing I look forward to my father’s 91st birthday next week. He has dementia and spends most of his day watching the news on TV. He watches the same news again and again throughout the day and often rings me to tell me what he’s learnt. Quite regularly he calls me to tell me the same news he had told me previously, as he can’t remember whether he told me or not, but the point is that he is still learning. And, he’s excited about it.
Everyone should be excited about learning and doing something that challenges them. If you’re afraid of heights, climb a ladder or jump from a plane (set your own levels). How exhilarating it can be. If you don’t like to talk in public, just try it. You don’t need to be great at it, but you should try it.
Managers should encourage their people get the opportunities to try new things. Try a day in the life in your office. Let your people step into your shoes for a day, but ensure you step into theirs too. It’s a 2-way street, and most of the time managers need to make the first move. You never know what you might learn.
Bad Work Culture
Where to start with culture? Over the past 15 years I have been in the financial services sector and I think it’s fair to say, ‘Ooops’! And, ‘Sorry about the whole economic crash thing’! Ok, although I say that tongue in cheek, financial services people were not the only ones responsible, but did have a large part to play. And I can see that lessons have been learnt, but ask me if we’ll get there again, and I’d have to quote Carlsberg and say, ‘Probably’.
Why? Because of culture. I have worked with money lenders, banks, credit unions, debt collection companies, and many other financial institutions of the years. I have also worked within the finance teams of large US multi-nationals, and it’s always about the culture. And people don’t like to change.
A few years ago I left a large American multi-national company and joined a smaller Irish company. I was told at that time that ‘we don’t need that crazy loud American way of doing things, we’ve our own way here and our people wouldn’t like it’. Quite presumptuous I thought, but I brought in the craziness anyway, and now they have their ‘own way’, but different. A couple of years later I was in a small Credit Union in the south of Ireland, and they told me, ‘we don’t need that crazy loud Dublin way of doing things, we’ve our own way here and our people wouldn’t like it’ – you get the picture. Change is difficult and culture comes from the top down. We can talk about culture within financial services until we’re blue in the face, but that’s not what I’m referring to.
The one thing we can do is promote a healthy and fun culture within our own teams. A manager needs to lead from the front and promote a culture within their team that people respond to. A manager cannot sit behind a partition, or an office door, hiding from the most important assets in a team – the people. A manager needs to encourage, coach, motivate and take ultimate responsibility for leading that team and taking care of the people within it.
Remember, the most influential person in an employee’s career is their direct line manager. You make or break their day, so take that responsibility seriously. You can be certain that each of your employee’s partners know your name as you’ve been mentioned in sentences that start like ‘I had a great day today….’, or ‘I need to get out of that place….’.
Make a difference. The work culture in your department starts with you. Don’t wait for it to come from the top down – you could be waiting!!
And have some fun with your team….for God’s sake!!