Updated Mar 19, 2013 - 11:04 am
'I'm outta here!' Why 2 million Americans quit every month (and 5 steps to turn the epidemic around)
I recently discovered an alarming fact: Even in a climate of business uncertainty and an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, more than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month.
The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the category “Quits.” While the percentage of overall turnover has remained relatively steady at approximately 1.69 percent per month over the past decade, the number of voluntary “quits” is continuing to grow.
A recent study by Accenture reports on the causes:
- They don’t like their boss (31 percent)
- A lack of empowerment (31 percent)
- Internal politics (35 percent)
- Lack of recognition (43 percent)
Now let’s add a fifth reason of employee dissatisfaction. Author Melissa Llarena of Career Outcomes Matter reports that the biggest reason for “quits” is that employees no longer trust corporations.
Do you see what I’m seeing? Corporate employees are looking for a better working environment. Is this alarming? It should be to managers who need a talented team to accomplish corporate goals. The answer to employees saying, “I’m outta here!” is for management to thoughtfully establish an employee-focused culture. Please consider my recommendations:
1. Leaders, take care of your employees.
When your employees say to themselves and others, “Where’s the love?” you’ve got a problem. Do you know what they want to be engaged and happy? I suggest you sit down with them and ask. Generally, they will tell you: a) I want to feel respected; b) pay me what I’m worth, and when I exceed expectations, share the wealth; c) be considerate; d) let me fail, try and learn; and e) let me grow and develop my skills.
2. Leaders, empower your people.
Employees thrive when they are given a sense of ownership to accomplish their work with fewer approvals and checkpoints, and with a smaller degree of intervention and oversight. Company leadership and workers both succeed when employees are allowed to own and solve problems in an innovative way.
Corporate leadership can still achieve productivity and happily-engaged employees by offering more latitude in how employees accomplish goals. For example, must every employee’s workday start at 8 and end at 5? Could a working parent start their workday later or accomplish a portion of their workday from home? When a company can allow individuals to accomplish their goals in a more flexible way, productivity can increase, and satisfaction in the job can dramatically increase as well.
3. Leaders, eliminate the negative politics in your organization.
Managers have the power to abolish an individual’s or group’s counterculture comprised of unwanted agendas, attitudes and behaviors that pit individuals and cliques against other workers. Leaders need to know when bad politics are causing pain and frustration among the troops. Your job is to identify the issue and act boldly to declare it unacceptable. Stop it by confronting it. Stop it by telling the leaders of the pack to cease and desist. Tell them the behavior will end or they should look for another place to work. Your team has to know you are establishing a culture without disruptive politics and that this norm is non-negotiable.
4. Leaders, be trustworthy.
Trustworthiness does not happen overnight. Leaders earn it over time based on their positive personal attitudes, beliefs and behaviors toward others. Managers who are deserving of trust are dependable, reliable, honest, forthright, truthful and ethical. They care for people and exhibit an openness and transparency on all interpersonal relationship topics. All levels of employees are drawn to leaders who are genuine and honorable. These managers are beloved and praised. Conversely, employees flee when managers are unfair, lie, cheat, offend and deceive.
5. Leaders, recognize your people.
All employees like to be honored for their accomplishments. Feedback from management on job performance is not only instructive but rewarding. Telling workers their efforts are exemplary sends a clear message that they are valued and appreciated. When we are recognized for a job well done and in view of our peers, our job satisfaction and engagement levels are significantly increased. Once honored, we tend to be even more industrious. Genuine praise is a powerful motivator.
Do you recognize your own company or even yourself in these issues? If so, act quickly to turn this negative trend back around. If you don’t, both you and your company will be bearing the costs.
To see the full report on why 2 million Americans leave their jobs each month, visit the Grow America website.
You can contact me at @AskAlanEHall or via my personal website, www.AlanEHall.com.
The original version of this article appeared in Forbes:
Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.