What’s Missing?

Basic Business Cents

Some organizations can’t seem to hold on to good people. Others have waiting lists of applicants. What’s the difference?

Money is the first thing that comes to mind. After all, it is the most common reason people give for leaving in exit interviews. However, it is probably not the main reason. It is a convenient excuse because people do not want to burn bridges, hurt others feelings, or they have difficulty expressing their feelings of unhappiness. They probably would not have looked for another position if they were content with their present organization. Survey after survey shows money to be in the top ten reasons for job motivation, but it is usually in the bottom five. So, if money is not in the top five reasons for leaving a present position, what is?

Some organizations foster a spirit of brotherhood that creates a good feeling of belonging and pride. People in these organizations look forward to going to work each morning. They enjoy bonding with fellow employees and feel a part of a whole. IBM in its early years was this type of organization. They even had their own songbook about the company and employees would enthusiastically sing from it at social occasions. NASA in the early years was also a good example of brotherhood in work. Employees took great pride in their role in placing a man on the moon. The United States Marine Corps has an indescribable spirit of brotherhood with their motivational drivers like no brother left behind, always faithful, and accomplishing the most difficult tasks. They also developed a strong sense of accomplishment by making through their boot camp.

The feeling of accomplishment may be the strongest reason for employees to stay with their present organization. Everyone wants to feel like they are doing something worthwhile; that their job is important. Necessary to achieve this feeling is to comprehend the aim of the organization and why that is important. Proper leadership is key to creating this environment. They must create the picture of where the company wants to be in a finite period, usually a five-year goal. This aim must be communicated throughout the organization so that all employees are in agreement with the aim. Communication has two components, sending and receiving. This means that leadership must define the goal or aim of the organization, why it is important, what it means to employees and the community at large, and why they are important in achieving the aim. Then leadership must listen carefully to employee feedback and be willing to accept ideas from the workforce. In this way, they have ownership. A good aim or vision must satisfy three criteria:

  • It must be memorable. It is of no value if each employee cannot recite it from memory. It must be clear and concise.
  • It must be inspirational. It needs to be so desirable and important that employees want to be a part of making it happen.
  • It must be compelling. It is so powerful and irresistible that it moves employee to action.

A spirit of brotherhood accomplishing something deemed worthwhile by employees will create loyalty and fulfillment in their present organization. That overcomes temptations to move to another organization. Money cannot entice them to give that up.