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A Quick Look at What Motivates Employees

June 6, 2008 — New surveys are continuously released on what motivates employees to stay with their employer.

  • Why do employees leave a job? A survey released in late April by consulting firm Right Management says poor talent management is the cause. 25% of respondents reported leaving employers because of ineffective leadership, 22% cited poor relationships with their managers, and 21% said their contributions were not valued.
  • In May, Catalyst and the Families and Work Institute released a study, "Leaders in A Global Economy: Finding the Fit for Top Talent," that looked at what motivates top executives to stick with a company, and are there differences attributable to gender, region or level within the company? They looked at six global companies and surveyed each companies' employees around the world. It found little difference between women and men executives at major global companies in terms of their priorities for what they value most in their workplaces and careers. It also found that retention increased when the executives felt that what they valued most was being met in their workplace. Retention was also higher among those in senior leadership positions as opposed to those in pipeline leader positions. The overall ranking of values among all executives was as follows, with women valuing the first three factors even more intensely than men:
    • Having a challenging job
    • Having a supportive workplace
    • Having a good fit between life on and off the job
    • Being well compensated
    • Working at a company that has high values
    • Having the opportunity for high achievement
  • This week, Career Builder released a survey that indicates what you did in high school has an impact on how much you like your job. Apparently, job satisfaction levels are highest among teacher's pets and cheerleaders.
    • 81% of teacher's pets and 76% of cheerleaders said they are satisfied with their jobs overall.
    • Geeks and class clowns had the greatest number of workers who reported dissatisfaction with their jobs at 21% and 18%, respectively.
    • In addition, contentment with career progress is more prevalent among teacher's pets and athletes: 59% of teacher's pets and 57% of athletes reported they are generally satisfied with their career progress.
    • Student government members and geeks had the greatest number of workers who reported dissatisfaction with their career progress at 32% and 31%, respectively. So should we start checking employees' high school yearbooks to see if they will end up liking their jobs? I am not sure about that.

Disclaimer: Now I am not sure how much I buy into what these surveys say, I have been the recipient of calls attempting to survey me at dinner time, coincidentally at the same time that my 6-year-old needs me urgently because he can't find his caterpillar that he was keeping in hopes of it becoming a butterfly (really there's a caterpillar in the house!!) and that my 8-year-old is trying to get me to check a math assignment that seems designed to make parents feel like idiots because it is so incomprehensible.

And I am sure I have answered these phone survey with, let's say … not a whole lot of attention on what the question might have been. Nevertheless, I find these things fascinating, if only because it makes me scratch my head and say what?!!!

I should also note that not all of the surveys above were conducted by phone and of course I have no idea whether they were conducted during the dinner hours. And I am sure that the data is accurate and valid, I just always have a healthy skepticism on statistics of any kind, unless of course they support a point I am trying to make. (LOL)

E-mail Cara

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of WorldatWork.


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Mon July 27, 2009 9:15 AMReport Abuse
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I really appreciate this study it is very telling. I'd like to reference in a book I am ghost writing for a career coach. You can contact me at czabransky@yahoo.com 

stay advenruous,

Craig