Value our employees!

Jon M. Quigley

I keep ruminating on the article from the American Management Association on people leaving their previous employer (

The findings of Leigh Branham in the above study are both discouraging and encouraging. Discouraging in that there is a problem with how we treat our people. Encouraging in the hope maybe we will do something about it.

As the old adage goes, as you sow, so shall you reap. It should be obvious that you get the best out of people when you give your best to them. This philosophy is part of a consistent trusting relationship. So what happens when the trust is violated in the ways enumerated in the linked article or in other ways? Why is it we do not appreciate the employees we have until they come to us with another job offer? Consider this everyday story.

An employee has a position at a company. This employee has consistently delivered for the company over many years, cost improvements, quality improvements and timely project deliveries. The company rewards this person for their performance with less than Cost of Living Adjustments annually. At some point the employee takes other jobs or interviews at other companies in search of a way to advance. Another company, which has no track record with this individual, hires the person based upon resume and an interview. This new company is taking a risk as they have no real (historical and objective) knowledge of the individual. Additionally, the new employer oft times is offering more money than the present salary the prospective employee is making to take the position. The employee comes back to their soon to be former employer, and lets them know they have a job offer at another company providing the present employer with requisite two-week notice. Now, all of a sudden, that employee’s value at the present employer goes up! We want to improve their salary, or work hours or scope of work, or even all of the above. What has happened that now this employee’s value increased from the last few weeks, minutes or even seconds? Assuming they did not acquire a new certification, degree or other skill, nothing has changed in the seconds from when the employee did not have another offer to the time when they are wooed by another company, accepted an offer and are delivering their notice. Do we only value our employees when they have found another company that is willing to take on the uncertainty of the new hire, and put more money and career improvements on the line?

I have seen many articles and training on making sure we bring the best talent we can into our organizations. The statement could be better worded, do the best you can to keep those in your organization that perform. The value of an employee should not rise because in the last 30 seconds because somebody else recognizes what you are in fact taking for granted. When you make the counter offer you are essentially saying, “We know we have treated you unfairly in the past regarding compensation (or whatever deficit).” This is essentially a fairness or trust issue. We are uninterested in your wellbeing unless it impacts our wellbeing (the key employee leaving the company.) This does not reflect a trusting relationship.

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