Throughout my career placing candidates as a Talent Acquisition pro, my experiences have led me to understand that there are a few key reasons why people are always looking for another job. One huge reason is because some form of security or stability is not being met, hence a person takes the call, email or text from a recruiter.
After 20 years explaining to countless HR and Technology leaders who’ve come to me to help them find talent, they’ve also wanted to know why year after year, their companies cannot retain talent nor move the needle on increasing Employee Engagement. I think we’re at the point where organizations who are serious about real employee engagement must realize that small incremental band-aids have wasted untold time and money – yielding very little if any results.
I had read an article in the Mandarin that reinforces my beliefs stating: “People care far more about job security than whether a position is well-paid or high status.” But after representing countless job seekers, I’ve come to understand people generally do not want to constantly move around. People really do understand that “the grass is not always greener.” The truth is that fear of change is uneasy and that’s because we humans like security and familiarity. Familiar food, entertainment, everything. After all, we are “creatures of habit.” Heck – Amazon, Netflix, and many of the most powerful tech companies’ business models are structured around you being a creature of habit!
And here’s the thing – what I’m proposing is not just a Gen X or Millennial thing, everybody wants these things – because every generation really does have more similarities than differences – yet for most of this century, we’ve focused on the differences. So, the first key point is understanding what and why people want security and stability – and that everybody – it’s not just a specific generation that wants these things.
Another key reason people are always looking for a new job and employee engagement has trended so low can be linked to lack of freedom. The best HR and talent professionals understand that employees on the same teams very well may have different preferences in doing things because people learn in different ways. People get uncomfortable with little to no wiggle room. I don’t know many people who enjoy being micro-managed, yet a great many companies deploy this type of environment.
In that same article I mentioned, the writer explains it like this: “A lack of autonomy is one of the drivers of generation Y moving between jobs, he says. It’s not so much that they want to jump around, but that young person often gets frustrated at lacking any real autonomy in their work.” It’s important to understand that Gen X also wants these things, and I know many Boomers who do too. We must come to the understanding that moving around career-wise is much more of a culturally accepted thing today than it was say even 10-15 years ago. Back then, even if you hated your job, you stayed for the sake of staying because moving due to personal dissatisfaction was very ill-advised. Can you even imagine that today?
I am not going to minimize that there are not generational differences, of course we know this. But I am making the case that the differences are much smaller – and that we as a society have created a workplace culture in the state of today where many have focused on the differences and far less attention has been paid to our generational similarities.
For example, in the state of 2020, Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials are well versed and adept in multiple forms of communication; yet individual preferences differ and that is the truth. Yet there is a stigma of technology inability that surrounds Boomers and even Gen X which is nothing short of a true bias and false beliefs.
Rosalie Holian, an expert in organizational psychology and human resource management, agrees the differences are smaller than we tend to assume and stated “When you ask older workers the sort of things they want, they’re similar good working conditions that younger workers want as well.”
Are you starting to see the picture here? It’s about generational similarities and employee’s desires for mental and emotional health – and they are tied together. We’re going to enter the New Year with some very big challenges and my research points to workforce strategy moving in the direction of collaboration, unity, and workforce prosperity for all people.
- It means Employee Engagement is about job security and stability.
- It means Employer flexibility and Employee freedom.
- It means Bias and Discrimination are out. The Multi-Generational workforce is in.
If you are an HR, Talent, or leader professional in any capacity in the world of work, it’s time to get with the winning team and the new front runners because the future of work is right now.