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A "Perfectly Good Job" Nobody Wants - Part 1


So, your job remains unfilled. Maybe not a lot of people apply. Perhaps candidates reject your offer of employment. Worse yet, what if they quit soon after being hired? Yikes!

Why would that be? People need to work, right? Why don't they apply? Why refuse a job offer? Why quit a perfectly good job?

Well, probably because, from their perspective, it's not "perfectly good." It's easy to blame the candidates, to question their character or disparage their work ethic. But thinking like that limits our ability to understand the situation and overcome the problem.

The good new is, in many instances, the power to solve the problem lies with you, the employer.

Candidates at all levels consider the pros and cons of a job before deciding whether to take it. The factors they consider fall in three categories:

  1. Wages & Benefits … includes things like salaries, bonuses, insurance, vacation

  2. Culture & Work Environment … includes things like opportunities for advancement, perks, equipment & technology, policies

  3. Ability to Accommodate Work & Home Responsibilities … this is NOT work-life balance

Most of the time, people in professional roles consider the offer prior to taking the job. For folks at the low end, however, they often don’t realize until they’re already on the job that it's not good for them. They realize they either can’t do it (#3) or they don’t want to do it (#1 or 2). And then they quit.

The telltale sign that a job is not "perfectly good" is high turnover.

Fortunately, you have direct control over the factors that make a job good or not-so-good. While it may squeeze the bottom line on your financial statements, you can offer better wages or benefits. If you're behind the market and you have high job vacancy, you may have no choice. A less costly and, quite frankly, more impactful solution is to implement innovative strategies that improve your Culture & Work Environment. This is imperative if what you're offering is low-wage work. (But that's a story for another day.)

Third on the list, Ability to Accommodate Work & Home Responsibilities, is a tricky one. For some people, working for you may be more expensive than not working at all. The cost of childcare, for instance, may be more than what they can earn from you in wages. In other cases, there may be factors in their lives that prohibit them from working for you. Family care-giving is a common reason why workers, especially women, leave the workforce. When the demands of a sick family member interfere with expectations of the employer, the situation becomes untenable. No one is to blame. It's just life.

Why the need to accommodate work and home responsibilities? Well, in the olden days, there was a clear delineation between work and home. And the responsibilities were divided up, mostly by gender. Men worked. Women took care of the home—and all the attendant responsibilities. Car pool. School activities. Family illnesses. The dry cleaning. These were handled by the person who did not “work.” That meant that the person who did work didn’t have to bother with these "life" responsibilities. Today, most everybody works. The lines are blurred. Not only does everybody have life responsibilities, but most people want to be involved in those life activities. That’s why paternity leave, as an example, is gaining popularity. Indeed, there’s at least one company offering puppy paternity leave.

How does the inability to accommodate work and home responsibilities work in practice? Let’s consider an employer with a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding attendance and punctuality. How is abiding by this policy going to work for a single mother whose life turns upside down when it snows. And school is cancelled. And she has no network on which to rely? It’s not access to childcare. She’s got that. It’s not cost. She can get a subsidy for childcare. But if she physically can’t get her kid to childcare without being late to work, she can’t do it. It doesn’t mean she’s lazy. It simply means she can’t manage BOTH her work and home responsibilities on the occasions when school is abruptly cancelled.

What can the employer do? While the weather can't (as yet) be controlled, the employer does have control over the policy regarding attendance and punctuality. Instead of applying one policy across the board, the employer should consider how the policy impacts individuals. There are many solutions available to the employer from the simple (a standing arrangement for someone to cover for the single mother on snow days) to the outlandish (onsite childcare).

When you have a job with high turnover or high vacancy, you need to consider the factors that, from the point of view of your job seekers, make it a less-than-perfectly-good job. And if you can make adjustments to your policies, processes or practices to make it easier for workers to accommodate both their work and home responsibilities, you are likely to experience improvement in employee retention and job satisfaction. And then you're on your way from perfectly good to exceptional!

Schedule a time to chat with Andrea about what's going on with your workforce

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