A fabulously committed employee handing in a resignation note is probably the biggest tragedy that a manager encounters.
And unfortunately, it happens far too often than we really dare to acknowledge – employees who have cheerily walked into the workplace for years together, and were inspiring role models for several of their co-workers, suddenly decide to move on and pursue opportunities outside. As for their managers, they are stunned and puzzled, and wonder what factors could have led to the event. Truth is, while they remained oblivious – several push factors may have been at play, slowly brewing in the workspace, until employees can’t deal with it anymore and decide to quit the job that they so enthusiastically worked at.
So what are these ‘push’ factors that escape a manager’s attention, but hurt an employee’s morale considerably? And what must managers do to stay more informed and perceptive of such factors, and limit the damage these create?
1. The burden of excessive work
First things first, while the best employees are committed and energised – they do need to be helped with taking sensible breaks. Committed employees are good at doing what they do, and so are more likely to be given increased tasks by their managers – while these help fuel excellence and drive, over a period of time employees maybe burdened by their passion for work and consequently burn themselves out.
Work overload and stressful periods are normal occurrences in organisations; however, managers need to be watchful to ensure that the work is shared equitably among all the team members, and offer appreciation to employees who strive to deliver their best.
2. Inadequate recognition
Let’s face it – all of us feel motivated by a pat on the back! And employees who work hard to secure the organisational goals deserve to hear that they are doing well, and feel suitably rewarded. It is important managers find ways to engage their top talent, and ensure innovative means beyond monetary measures to effectively convey their support and appreciation for their employees.
3. Focus on profits, but not on people
The purpose of an enterprise is profit – while this can’t be disputed, leaders need to acknowledge that the secret to drive profits in business knows how to attract and retain the best of talent. When organisations commit to putting their people first, they are taking steps to secure their balance sheets as well.
Managers need to ensure they are staying adequately invested in their people, by way of the time and training they offer them. Consequently, this will help boost not just employee morale, but also promote productivity, profitability and improved shareholder relationships.
4. Hierarchy matters
More often than not, managers realise that the resignation of a fabulous employee could have been completely avoidable, had they been more sensitive to hierarchy matters in the organisation.
When changes occur in the reporting structure, it is important to ensure related communications are in place, and affected employees are kept informed on the changes that are likely to occur. This helps avoid sudden surprises and unnecessary worries/insecurities over changes in authority relationships across the hierarchy, and drives positive messaging with employees. They understand and see the change as being necessary to secure both individual as well as organisational interests, and will likely worry less/be less defensive as they work through the change process.
Overall, it is important to remember that changes in hierarchy can affect employeesquite deeply, and they feel respected and empowered when they know they are being consulted and offered information prior to the change event.
5. Career stagnation
Extremely committed employees care deeply about their jobs and careers. They spend an inordinate amount of effort and energy trying to deliver their best on their jobs, and are often looking for increased opportunities to develop their skills and work at mastery. They also share a deep connect to the organisational vision and values, and are energised by meaningful goals at work.
It is therefore important that managers consistently engage with them to discuss their personal and professional goals, and help align them with organisational goals. These offer greater visibility on paths for professional growth and encourage employees to commit more strongly to team and business objectives.
At the end of the day, an organisation’s biggest asset is its people. Creating work environments that are open, friendly and trusting is essential to help employees feel committed and energised, and ensure exceptional delivery standards at work. As front line representatives of the organisational leadership, managers have an important role to play here – they help create valued opportunities for their teams, sustain support and mentorship, and foster goodwill, positivity and commitment. Doing so helps them build highly motivated teams and retain talent over sustained periods of time.