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Why some loyal employees decide to walk away

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By PURITY WANJOHI
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Imagine, for a moment, that the grim reaper has visited your home.

You are at work when you receive the devastating news.

You go to your boss, share the news and ask for a few days off to attend to the emergency.

Your boss listens, watches and in the end tells you, “when you come back, please bring a copy of the burial permit for us to ascertain that you indeed attended the ceremony and are not looking for a few days off.”

Dear readers, this is happening in a workplace somewhere!

Which brings us to the issue at hand: What makes employees leave?

This is a question that many employers are grappling with.

They hire today and tomorrow, the employee has left for greener pastures.

If an employer is lucky, they will be given notice, giving them time to look for a replacement.

If not, they will be met by an empty desk on a Monday morning, with a brightly coloured sticky note on the computer screen announcing blithely: “I’m not coming back. Thank you for the opportunity.”

Leaving a job can be daunting.

Before a good employee hands in that resignation letter, they have really thought about it, especially in Kenya where employment opportunities are few.

They have most certainly sat down somewhere, with a pen and notepad, listed down the pros and cons of staying on at your organisation and then settled on their choice to leave.

As has been aptly observed, employees leave people, not jobs.

Jesse Sostrin in his book, Beyond the Job Description, took this statement a notch higher when he wrote that people don’t leave organisations to seek out other opportunities because of communication, leadership, or culture; they leave because of what communication, leadership and culture make or do not make in their experience at work.

If people spend 60 per cent of their lives working, work should not be a mundane part of life. It should be an experience.

With the rise and ease of access to information, employees are aware of what a workplace should and should not be like.

As a result, employers that change tack and grow accordingly will continue to attract and retain the crème of the crop, while those that do not will atrophy and die.

Michael Gerber in the book, E-myth Revisited, argues that for a business to succeed, the person starting it has to be three things: A technician, a manager and an entrepreneur.

How does this relate to employees?

Well, to bring in and keep valuable employees, one must be an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur’s job is to anticipate and prepare oneself for the business of growth.

A well-developed and thought-out business will naturally grow; one cannot do that alone. You need people; employees.

As an entrepreneurial employer, have you given any thought to how communication, leadership, or culture affects your staffs’ working experience?

Have you set up systems that anticipate their needs and wants?

You want employees to stay? Have a vision for them. Take them as seriously as you take your business.

A local entrepreneur boldly stated: “eight to five won’t change the world.” How uninformed! Your employees are your eight-to-five.

They make or break your business since they are your day-to-day hands and feet.

Grow them as you grow. Know and understand them as individuals and as employees. Lead and inspire them.

Share your vision, and let them know how their daily tasks contribute to it.

As a business leader, recognise and reward hard work. Offer career or personal development opportunities.

Support the need for work-life balance. Provide opportunities for them to use their abilities and skills.

Ask for and listen to their opinions on various issues.

Celebrate their successes outside the workplace instead of stifling it. Give them rest days. Pray for them. Show empathy.

They are an investment with a high return.

What if they still leave after all this?

Consider them a key to your next grandiose opportunity where all that you have done for them will count.

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