Your Employees are Looking for Other Jobs

A recent article caught my attention – the article claims that 87% of employees plan to look for other work in 2014. I think this is over-hyped because it was a survey of 15,000 job seekers, so there is obvious selection bias in the sample which leads to making broad brush conclusions about a workforce of 100M people from a sample of 15,000 job seekers. But perhaps this Gallup report sheds more light on the plight of workers in today’s economy:

“Of the approximately 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs, 30 million (30%) are engaged and inspired at work, so we can assume they have a great boss and are not looking for other work. At the other end of the spectrum are roughly 20 million (20%) employees who are actively disengaged. These employees, who have bosses from hell that make them miserable, roam the halls spreading discontent. The other 50 million (50%) American workers are not engaged. They’re just kind of present, but not inspired by their work or their managers.” (

Did you know that 75% of workers report that their immediate supervisor is the most stressful part of their job? (Good Boss, Bad Boss, Robert Sutton, p. 15) Incivility in the workplace costs American businesses more than $300B annually (L.M Andersson and C.M. Pearson, “Tit for Tat? The Spiraling Effect of Incivility in the Workplace”, Academy of Management Review 24 (1999): 52-71). Numerous books on how to manage your boss (such as Working for You Isn’t Working for Me, Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster) can easily be found at most bookstores and online outlets. Books and articles on incivility can be found going back as far as our founding fathers. And the latest book Snakes in Suits tells of how those in the management training programs have a rate of psychopathy four times than of the population and how they destroy people around them as they rise to the top.

It is expensive to recruit and train employees – especially top talent – only to find that they leave because they don’t like their boss. Like churches, a business tends to take on the personality and traits of its’ owner. If your employees don’t like you or don’t trust you, chances are good that they will leave and will often “check out” well before they hand in their resignation. People often don’t leave jobs. They leave bosses. They leave co-workers. They leave a culture. And before they leave, they check out emotionally and mentally while they plan for the next phase in their lives and how that transition will take place. Their productivity shoots through the floor. And you, as the business owner, are often left holding the bag while you scramble to fill their position.

Have you taken time to look at yourself and have other, trusted advisors speak truth into your life? While you may not want to know what your employees really think of you, it would be helpful to you to know if your blind spots are driving away good people from your business. I’ll urge you to take some time and engage more fully with your employees. Retaining key employees and top talent will ensure that your business is best positioned for success. Take some time to ensure that 2014 isn’t the year of employee transitions in your company.

Bill English, CEO