Workers want out!  Such is the collective sentiment felt in unison by the American workforce.  They show up to work, fulfill their job requirements, and act like good soldiers, all the while surreptitiously knowing they already have one shoe out the door with the other closely behind.

In December 2010, CNNMoney ran a story depicting the current state of employee discontent: New Year’s Resolution: I Quit! In summation, “[a]ccording to a recent survey by job-placement firm Manpower, 84% of employees plan to look for a new position in 2011. That’s up from just 60% last year.” It is a truly staggering figure.  If you’re an employee at a company, then take a moment and scan the office.  For every ten workers you see almost nine of them want to quit.  That’s remarkable.  It is no secret that hiring abated dramatically during this recession which is why many unhappy workers toiled away quietly while anxiously waiting for the bell to ring.  The economic upswing is now accelerating and hiring is ramping up again.  There’s the bell.

Albeit problematic for management, losing employees is more accurately a symptom of a more systemic undercurrent of discontentment enhancers.  Underlying issues often prompt workers to run for the exits.  The top three motivations behind why employees quit are as follows: (1) better opportunity, (2) more money, and (3) clashes with management.  People move on, that is just the natural order of things in the corporate world whatever the geneses of discontentment may be.  But although quitting may be a net positive for the employee, it often is a transaction that has a negative effect on the company, particularly on management.  Quitting disrupts organizational continuity, and costs countless dollars to train new hires.  Retention is vital but remains an enormous challenge for companies.  Elements that deserve consideration are: increasing compensation and vacation time, allowing employees to participate in a four-day workweek, retraining or eliminating bad managers, allow for employee feedback, and making a genuine attempt to determine what employees want!

So who is to blame?  Are employees asking for too much in return for their services?  After all, isn’t a job merely one compartment of a person’s life?  Sure, most workers would privately exclaim they are more deserving of greater compensation and perhaps some of them are justified in that claim.  But one has to wonder, is the grass necessarily greener or is this simply a delusional, unending search for the Holy Grail that inevitably succumbs to exhaustion with the epiphany that no perfect job scenario really ever existed in the first place?  Perhaps there is room for blame on both sides of the equation.  But companies must realize that the job market is just that, a market.  They are competing to purchase worker productivity through compensation and benefits.  It is a zero sum game; one company’s loss is another company’s gain.   And although there may be numerous skilled, educated, and dedicated workers in the current applicant pool, this almost certainly will not always remain the case.  One thing is for certain, if companies do not reexamine and revamp their current approaches to employee retention, then they just might as well install revolving doors at their entrances.

John Brigantino is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  He enjoys writing, non-fiction books, traveling and the many cultural and leisure experiences Manhattan has to offer.