Monday, October 14, 2019

Employee Resignation is Not Always About Money

Article Summary: A measly income can drive a worker to quit. However, corporate culture, pursuit of individual goals, and human conflicts can cause the same. 

There are many factors that drive workers to resign.

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Though having a job that provides "survival" income may seem enough for many struggling workers, such is not the case. Work itself, especially one that brings unhappiness, often leads to a feeling of alienation, i.e. a detachment of purpose and the sense of being human. Indeed, not a few left a job because it did not pay well. However, low salary is not the only reason why employees leave their jobs. The other whys may include the following:

  •  Corporate culture
  •  Personal Growth and Happiness
  •  Intra- and interpersonal conflicts
  • Mismatched expectations, including the sense of being alienated from the organization's vision, mission, and goals (VMGs)

In Understanding Management (2008), Richard Daft and Dorothy Marcic talk about a survey of 103 women, former executives in top companies listed in Fortune 1000, who identified corporate culture that discriminates against women as their primary reason for leaving.

Indeed, oppressive workplaces zero in on the quality or nature of work relationships. There are employees engaged in advocacy and policy work in non-profit agencies who experience being oppressed by their own bosses and colleagues. There are so-called feminists who oppress other women whom they don't like or have differences with. Oftentimes, these power trippers surprise their prey with a stab at the back. Phyllis Chesler's Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2001) bears witness to such female-against-female interpersonal conflicts.

Power tripping though is a turf for both men and women. Oftentimes, however, it is committed by unreasonably demanding bosses. There are workaholic superiors who seem to forget that their subordinates also have a life outside the workplace. Calling an assistant at 12 midnight or 2 a.m. to ask about a report is just simply disrespectful of other people's time, as well as their right to rest and not to bring home any kind of work. Sometimes, they can even use past mistakes to get even with employees who disappointed them. As Patricia Casey (2010) notes in Alternative Health - Mind and Meaning, such behavior is a form of bullying induced by context: i.e., "an environment that enables the behaviour to thrive. In this regard power imbalance, often ingrained in an organisation, low cost to the perpetrator if discovered, weak leadership styles, and frustration, dissatisfaction and high stress levels..." 

Very few workplaces really care about further enhancing the potentials of their employees. Though some offer scholarships and periodical training activities, the end goal of these benefits is to "force" the worker to stay and repay the "benefit/privilege", outrightly dismissing any attempt to leave because one still "owes" the company something and is obliged to return that investment. Lack of an employee's personal growth may be due to the nature of the work itself and workplace policies.

Another factor is the absence of feedback from managers. Many supervisors, program directors, and the like think that their primary duty is to delegate tasks, followed by monitoring, evaluating, and depriving subordinates the support they need when the going gets tough. Feedback is not just about critiquing, but an opportunity to encourage or praise people who have done a good job. However, there are insecure managers who would rather protect their turf or mar the promotion of their subordinates. Many of whom do not view mentoring or coaching as their responsibility as well. Based on Leigh Branham's The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave (2005), not being coached either by people who managed them before could have contributed to such situation.

Branham also notes that work-life imbalance also leads to resignation. No work or employer is worth the sacrifice an employee makes just to earn money. Having quality time for self and loved ones - i.e., pursuit of personal goals, learning a new skill, celebrating special occasions with family and friends, and even nursing an ill parent/sibling/child - is undeniably important for all workers. Companies that overlook or remains insensitive to these concerns stand to suffer from rapid succession of turnovers, aside from gaining a bad reputation as a workplace or as an employer.

Wanting to be one's own boss can also make an employee leave. Though sales and/or clients may come and go, or profits may ebb and flow, the freedom that self-employment or entrepreneurial pursuits provide is better than being enslaved by company rules and corporate fascists. 

The workplace is not immune from incidents of sexual harassment, which basically manifests power play and gender bias. This can be committed not just by a superior, but by a colleague as well. And yes, it could happen to anyone, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, educational background, etc. However, most victims happen to be women, and men are often the perpetrators. Worse, company management could either ignore complaints of this nature or dismiss the complainant in favor of the harasser. 
To illustrate: Writing for a Muslim boss when the employee is not even a Muslim and has not experienced the kind of discrimination Muslims go through. This is not to say that non-Muslims are unable to relate or understand Muslim concerns, but this may result in producing writings that are merely rhetorical or motherhood statements. It is indeed alienating to use words one does not mean, to create ads that mask ugly realities, or to produce goods that one does not consume. Being passionate and sharing the same conviction or beliefs about something (e.g., social cause, services, program, merchandise, etc.) are necessary to ensure meaningful longevity in a certain work environment. 

Creating a nurturing workplace 

To discourage workers from leaving, employers then would have to provide the kind of care that they themselves would like to experience had they been an employee. Moreover, it is not only the employees that an employer takes care of, as he/she indirectly takes care of their families as well. That itself is already the most efficient and effective way to advertise one's company and to retain the best of its human resources.

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