Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

Some 75,000 Americans will quit their jobs today.


Some of them – highly resourced “professionals” – some, barely educated menial laborers. A small percentage will be scarcely noticed by their employer as they walk away but a great many will cost their company dearly…lost investments in on-boarding and training – discarded future contributions.


The compelling question – why, even in this relatively solid economy are so many voluntarily saying, “No more?”


Sometimes it’s better opportunities…but many times it’s simply overwhelming frustration with where they are.


And it’s in the common ground that connects the dissidents that we may learn more about how we attract, incentivize, and retain our American work force.


Let’s rewind the clock a bit – suddenly it’s February of this year and that lost employee who will be leaving you in six months – there’s a good chance that one or more of the statements below is what they wanted to say – if only they could – to their employer or their manager – long before it was too late.


  1. “Tell me what you expect from me, teach me how to do it…and then let me do my job.”  Translation – I need to know what the job standards are…I can’t read your mind…but once I know that PLEASE give me the freedom to do what you pay me to do.
  2. “Let me know there is a sense of purpose in my role – that it actually makes a difference.”  Said another way – it’s easy to get lost in the weeds in my position…but only if YOU don’t allow me to understand how what I do contributes to our company’s larger success.
  3. “My compensation is very important – make it worth my while to be here…but tossing a higher paycheck my way probably isn’t going to retain me.” Any exit analysis is hard pressed to point to compensation as the primary driver for employee exodus – so what is a contributor? Start with 3 things – the direct line supervisor/manager, the culture of the work unit, and the level of communication and trust that is built into the fabric of the day-to-day work environment.
  4. “Challenge me – this job can become mundane very quickly. Give me goals that matter – help me realize success that invigorates me.” Employee disengagement is very real – with almost 20% of today’s workforce at full burnout.  That malady doesn’t take place overnight – but no worker who doesn’t see stretch in his or her future will continue to flourish. We’re either growing or we are atrophying. The myth of maintaining status quo is just that – a myth.
  5. “Trust me first – I know there will be some who try to beat the system and I understand my work will need to be scrutinized but even a modicum of faith will be returned ten-foldI need to know YOU believe in me.” Employers have pressure to achieve – sometimes that pressure manifests itself in undue downward tension on employees. Great leaders begin with a perspective of respect for their employees – not with the assumption that someone is hoping to “game the system.”
  6. “Talk honestly with me– lose the employer vernacular and the corporate speak. We’re both humans – we’re both trying to do the right things – we both want to win.”The old saw that employees don’t leave companies – they leave their manager – is subject to debate in some circles. Certainly it is never easy to fully distinguish one single reason but those employees who can actually talk with their direct line leader are far more likely to stay with a company than the masses who can’t.
  7. “Help me – I know I’m not perfect. Give me resources that make me better in my role AND help me appreciate the craftsmanship required to do what I do everyday.” Though some might debate how applicable this is to an hourly worker the reality is every one of us hopes to take pride in our assignments – and most if not all respond to training or coaching that helps ensure better performance.
  8. “Hold me accountable – but make darn sure you hold everyone else accountable – including yourself.”  The phenomenon of “Us and They” is very real – the dividing line between the aristocracy and the proletariat of every company threatens to widen with sky rocketing CEO salaries and golden parachutes that make the regular employee angry and resentful. A healthy atmosphere of mutual accountability begins at the top – an unhealthy climate of “you must do more” starts much lower – and often disenfranchises a work force.
  9. “Give me a glimpse of my future – and help me understand why staying here is more than just a check mark for this company.” Tough to do in big companies to be sure but the very best invest a LOT of time talking about WHY this is a place you want to work – and HOW you can help build that ideal future.
  10. “For gosh sakes, lighten up so we can actually enjoy being here. Life is too short to live in a pressure cooker.”  This just in – All things being equal we tend to want to work at a place where people enjoy what they do and whom they work with. And all things NOT being equal we tend to want to work at a place where people enjoy what they do and whom they work with.  The culture of a work group, division, or company usually exceeds the sum of its parts. We introduce a few cancerous employees and we have a malignancy – we hire for character and we build an empire.  


By my estimate in the time I’ve taken to pen this little blog some 6 to 8 thousand employees walked away from their place of business – voluntarily surrendering their roles.


The cost to our economy – in the billions each year.


I can’t help but wonder how many of those valuable “assets” – as they walked out the door one last time – might point to one of the ten points above and say to the employer that invested so much to bring them on board….


“ Where were you?”



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