Employee Retention and Becoming a Better Manager

Layers by Anna Ignatieva
Why do we stay at our jobs?

Well besides for the most obvious factor of money there are many other factors that determine job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. In fact, the reasons you like a job aren't necessarily the reasons you stay at it. It's actually suggested that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are measured in different ways rather than being on different ends of the same spectrum.

Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory describes what keeps people satisfied with their work as well as what factors contribute more to job dissatisfaction.

Motivators are typically the key factors in keeping people interested and satisfied with their jobs. These are the things that result from doing the job such as personal growth, recognition, responsibilities or advancement. These are all things that give positive satisfaction because of the work that is being done.

The Hygiene factors are the aspects of a job that define the job context such as job security, salary, benefits, working conditions or company policy. These are things that do not give positive satisfaction from the work itself, but will give job dissatisfaction if they are not present. Sure it may feel great to get a high paying job or a raise, but that feeling does not last for years at a time. If you did not get a raise for 5 years you would notice it and it would be a dissatisfier. Though a raise every year does not keep us motivated at our job year round since inflationary raises are typically expected at any job.

While each of these factors contribute to job satisfaction and dissatisfaction with different weights, neither of them can be ignored if you want an employee to be happy and stay. As a manager it's your responsibility to check in on your employees and see that these needs are being met. If one of your employees does bring some of these factors to your attention then you should see what you can do to help them find a better balance. When an employee's request falls on deaf ears that also falls into the job dissatisfaction side of things too!

"We can expand ... by stating that the job satisfiers deal with the factors involved in doing the job, whereas the job dissatisfiers deal with the factors which define the job context."  - Frederick Herzberg

The motivational factors are the things that keep us excelling at our work and interested in our jobs. Imagine that if you won the lottery and were only working to keep yourself motivated and interested. You would look for something that focuses on the motivational factors. As an employer, if you can find ways to make your employees feel great benefit as a result of their work they will naturally want to do a good job at it. The Hygiene factors are more related to keeping employees to stay at their jobs. Yes money is a motivator, but if your employees are getting a competitive rate then money becomes less of a factor.

My Personal Experiences

While not all companies understand this idea, in my experience most of the companies that I have worked for think that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are on the same spectrum. They focus on either the motivators or the hygiene factors and think that will compensate for the ones that they are neglecting. I have been at companies in the past where getting a raise was like pulling teeth, in fact, that was the reason I left a job since six months after a promised raise I was still waiting around for it. I ended up taking matters into my own hands and left, and when I did I got a 20% raise for it. That job had amazing motivational factors, and I still hang out with old coworkers from it, but the hygiene factors made me decide to leave.

I also had another job where I was paid well but I was treated poorly. For a while, whenever I dealt with all of the crap from that employer I just had to remind myself that I was getting paid well for it. In the end, I needed more balance so I left that job too.

Finding a job with that balance is key, and if you are a manager and want your best employees to stay you should make sure you talk to them to know their concerns. Eventually every unhappy employee will look for a new job, if you can keep them happy then that is the key to retention. Too many times I have had discussions on keeping me as an employee only after I tell my employer that I have found a new job. If there's another offer on the table then you're too late to the party.

Have you found that balance in your job? How do you approach employee retention?

Give Yourself a Bonus!

Crimson by Greg "Craola" Simkins
It took me a few years to get my savings to the point where I could max out my 401(k) every year. The main reason I wasn't maxing it out was because I followed the standard advice of only contributing 10 or 15 percent of my income to it.

Retirement Advice 101

I thought that if was following the advice that I always heard that I was ahead of most people. To be honest, I was probably doing better than most people by saving just 10% anyways. But I wasn't making $175k per year so 10% was not going to even get me close to maxing it out. Years later, if I still followed the 10-15% advice I would still have a large gap between how much I was saving and the maximum allowed.

But why did I follow the standard rules for what I had heard about saving for retirement? I knew if I followed the standard advice I would be comfortable once I got closer to retirement.

But if I followed the beginner's rules, then I would probably end up with the beginners retirement, and 67 does not sound like the age I want to retire at.

What is Normal?

Wired up like Neo in the Matrix
I'm wired up like Neo in the Matrix....
As I sit here, hooked up with 12 electrodes to my head, 2 on my chest, 2 on my legs, 2 belts wrapped around my chest, a tube in in my nose and a monitor on my finger I begin to wonder how I got here... Not how I drove myself to a sleep center to run tests to determine if I do or more likely, don't have narcolepsy. But I wonder how I got to the point of needing this test to begin with.

All of my life I just thought I was more tired than other people. At first I blamed it on typical things like being in high school and college, where it was normal to stay up too late on a regular basis cramming for tests that I should have prepared for earlier. Or just staying out late with friends and regretting signing up for that 11am class because it was waaaay to early to need to be presentable to the world. Many times I would just go to class unshowered and wearing what I fell asleep in. (side note: PJ's are acceptable to wear to class in college. Bathing suits on a rainy day are probably not.)

Everyone Makes Sacrifices

Guardian by Sam Flores
Everyone will have to make sacrifices at some point in their life. And I'm not talking about the little ones either, like going to a certain restaurant because that's what you're significant other wants, or settling on used car with low mileage because you can't really afford a new one. I'm talking about career goals, things that will change years or decades of your life.

The most common sacrifice is the debate of working for money or passion. If money wasn't important people wouldn't sacrifice their passion for it. Sometimes people (myself included) don't have a passion that is strong enough to outweigh the money we could make doing something else. Sure, I could have picked a different profession like working with animals that would have given me more personal satisfaction than my current job. But my current job affords me the lifestyle that I like and will hopefully get me closer to my goals much quicker than any other use of my time.

Everyone will have to make a sacrifice at some point. There's a reason the term "starving artist" exists, it's because most of them don't make enough money to get by. They have decided to sacrifice money for their passions in hopes that eventually some reputable publication takes note of their work and helps them "break out".

But it's not always a sacrifice between money and passion. Entrepreneurs have a passion for the products and companies they build, and occasionally they make money off of those passions pretty quickly, but they sacrifice something else. Their time. Do you think that someone like Mark Zuckerberg didn't sacrifice his time when he started Facebook? Or what about Elon Musk when he started PayPal? Mark Cuban is known for not taking a vacation for the first 7 years that he started his company.

Everyone has to sacrifice something

Don't Live With a False Sense of Security

Morphine by Michael Hussar
Morphine by Michael Hussar
People don't save enough these days.

It's apparent in almost every survey done when we ask people how much they have saved for retirement. The most recent survey that I saw was conducted by LearnVest and Chase Blueprint supports my thoughts pretty well, it's actually quite shocking how underprepared the average person is for their future retirement. I think that many of these people are going to have to work for much longer than they really want to.

But what comes before savings is living below your means. If you can live off of 50% of your income then you can save a lot more compared to someone that lives off of 95% of their income. It's simple math. But actually executing this is the hard part, not everyone can live off of small portions of their income. In fact some people live off of more than they make thanks to credit cards.

The other day a person that I know was talking about sending their daughter to summer camp. There were various courses that they could sign up for at this camp but they mentioned that they couldn't afford to sign up for certain courses because they cost $75 more than some of the courses. While I'm glad they recognized their limits I was stunned that they weren't able to afford the extra $75. After all, this family of 4 had season passes to Disneyland, ATV's for each of their children before they were even 10 years old, and own their own RV. So why were they spending so much that the $75 for their daughters summer camp was too much?

I think they were living with a false sense of security

Can You Over Diversify?

Casey Weldon - Cat
Painting by Casey Weldon
In a word - Yes.

At least I think so.

But I think that there are multiple ways to over diversify. The first one that you probably are already thinking of is owning over 100 different individual stocks. There's probably no way you can keep up that well with all of those companies on a regular basis unless you happen to work in finance or have a LOT of spare time on your hands.

But because of over diversification you may be killing your returns without even knowing it. Investors think that they are playing it safe by spreading their money around everywhere when in fact they may be whittling away at their returns before they even start.

The Revolution Will Be Fabulous

Peter Gronquist - Versace Assault Rifle
When it comes to financial goals, the end game for most people is retirement. In the personal finance community it has many other names: Financial Independence, FIRE Day (Financial Independence Early Retirement), FU Money (though I would call it F<3ck Yeah Money!)

All of these terms are great and they all revolve around the goal of retirement, but I think it's more than that. I think that reaching that goal early in life is also about rejecting societies idea that you need $2 million dollars to comfortably retire these days. Or not accepting the idea that you have to work until the age of 65 before you can fully retire (67 for those of us born after 1960 [and who knows when that might be raised again]). Why aren't we questioning what people think is "normal"? When I was growing up I was rebellious, if someone told me no I questioned why, so why I should stop now?

I'm planning my own revolution, and it will be fabulous

Money and Relationships

Have you ever let money ruin a friendship?

Liam at Disneyland
You kiss your mom with that lying little mouth of yours?
Meet my nephew Liam, he is a liar. Over the past few days I have taken him to Disneyland. He is out visiting with my sister and it was his first time visiting the Magical Kingdom of $4 churros and never ending lines. On the first day as we walked by a delicious smelling churro stand he pointed to it and said that he wanted one. I asked him if he even knew what it was.. Ha! Silly me, kids remember churros better than they can remember my dog that becomes their best friend every time they visit.

Anyways, apparently he "conveniently" forgot his money at home that day. So I made a deal with him, I told him I would buy all the churros that day that his teeth could handle before they rotted out of his little head, but that he would have to buy them for me the next day. He agreed faster than Pinocchio's nose grew on donkey island, that stone cold little liar didn't even hesitate. And I must say, his rotten little teeth sure can take a lot of sugar, after 4 churros throughout the day I was looking forward to not having to pay the next day.

But when the next day came around, he seemed to have conveniently forgotten his money again! "Okay" I said, "I'll spot you one more day but you have to pay me back. I'm not some peer to peer lender." And once again he nodded his head and grinned at me like the Grinch about to steal something, little did I know that it would be my money... Again.

When Was Your Sewing Machine Moment?

Many people call it an "A-ha! Moment" or the Eureka effect, but sometimes I like to use simplified abstract comparisons such as the spherical cow to describe things, so I call it the sewing machine moment. It's that moment when suddenly something clicks, things make sense, and you change because of it.

Clothing has existed for thousands of years, the process of binding pieces of material together to create clothing has existed since humans started being exposed to weather.... Now that's a long time.

How a sewing machine works
Image via Wikimedia Commons
But the process of creating clothing didn't evolve much over that time. It has been less than 200 years since we were able to create a machine to speed up this process for us. Until that time people had to take a piece of thread and push it through material and repeat that process hundreds or thousands of times to stitch pieces of fabric together.

Since clothing has been around as long as humans. People have been trying to come up with a better way to do this process for... Forever... Well, at least hundreds of years, but no one could figure out how to do it. Eventually someone had their sewing machine moment, they came up with a backwards idea of using two threads and pushing the eye of the needle through the fabric to get the threads to interlock.

Suddenly, this machine changed the world. Since every piece of clothing did not have to be made by hand and the work could be done faster, and clothing became cheaper.


What was your sewing machine moment?

Don't give up a lifetime of happiness for a few moments of pleasure.

Hide and Seek by Alice Dufeu
Hide and Seek by Alice Dufeu
Why do we approach buying a home backwards?

I'm not sure how my mind wandered across this lately but I started thinking about how people typically go about buying a home. Most people start saving money and once they feel like they have a decent chunk saved they begin to look at how much they can really afford and then decide from there what to buy.

I mean, this sounds reasonable. I think this is kind of how I approached it, but why did I do that. I don't do that for anything else. I would never look in my wallet and say, "I have $60, let's find a place for dinner that costs around $50 so that after the tip I have about $0 left." That makes no logical sense. When I'm hungry for dinner I decide what I want and then I look for what my options are.

To a degree people know what they want and need out of a house, but most people look for more because "they can afford it." Do you really need separate bedrooms for all of your kids? Can they share? What about the extra guest room or the office that you want in your house? Do you really need that or is it something you just want? Does your kitchen have to have a gas stove or would you be able to survive with electric?

Saver's Block: How to begin when you don't know where to start

Smackdown by Eric Joyner
Smackdown by Eric Joyner
Eventually everyone has to become a saver. No one can (or wants to) work forever. When you get to the age of 70, your body might not let you keep working so hopefully you became a saver long before that happens.

I've heard many people say that they want to start saving for retirement but investing is too confusing. When they hear the words, "personal finance" something in their brains just shuts off so they don't bother. There's a tried and true method to resolve this and it works for more than just finance. Writers get writer's block, painters get .... some sort of painter's block equivalent, and even athletes get into slumps or "cold streaks". And you know what they do, they just keep playing. They know that eventually it will come back and they will hit their stride again.

It's really a simple solution to all of these problems.

Learning From Our Mistakes: How to Kill Zombies

Nathan Ota - Hearts
Hearts by Nathan Ota
Wouldn't it be nice to go through life never having to learn anything "the hard way"? There's something to be said about failure that makes a lesson stick in your head. In fact, it's actually an evolutionary tool to remember negative emotional events more clearly than positive emotional events. Primitive man would have had a hard time surviving if they did not remember that the nearby river had crocodiles in it. Or a more modern example would be that if you asked someone where they were on September 11th, 2001 they could probably tell you where they were and even details of that day. I know that I can.

So why can't we remember the positive events as clearly? Well, some people can. They still remember the bad events, they just don't focus on them as much. You know what they say, when life gives you lemons... And that really is the key to it, focus on the good events while they happen, take note of those small details so that later you can recall them just as easily. Be mindful of these events.