How happy are you with your job?                                                                          

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate yourself?


I hear it daily from our recruitment business that the pre-Christmas period is a time when candidates are active. Forget the New Year resolutions!

We also see it from the data we get from our clients via Engagement surveys.

As a Consultant who is very interested in retention and engagement strategies I have a couple of theories around why people have job dissatisfaction: (Please take into consideration this is Australian focused – not globally, although some themes are likely to apply so don’t stop reading folks!).

  1. The ‘more with less’ mantra

This has been on the agenda for a while – in a downturn economy, cost cutting has been prevalent; job sharing is on the rise; automation helps an employee do more in less time.

This has been a trend for a while which means that support jobs have been cut and there has been a push for managers/leaders of a business taking on more, getting closer to the pulse of the business.


The tide has turned in regards to profits: companies are posting profits and I believe that the average employee wants a share!  They feel they have been loyal to their employer – they have stuck with the company through the hard times and when they see coffers in the bank then they will ask “Where is my share for my loyalty?”

The problem is that things are still tight economically – bonuses are in the spotlight and cost cutting is not a trend just reserved for the down times but a constant. It is here to stay: so the realisation is dawning for some and this could be a dis-engager. 

  1. Fear factor/ Remuneration

This is an age old aspect but I think has been highlighted recently: the job market is more buoyant, business confidence is up but the whole question of “is the grass greener on the other side?” is still being asked.

Counter offers are increasing and although we have all read the articles and statistics about why you shouldn’t accept a counter offer the simple facts are:

  • Sometimes it is a lesser risk to stay with the company and culture you know
  • The cost of living is rising therefore an extra 5-10K a year is a big factor – it makes a difference to the back pocket!
  1. Development opportunities

Although the statistics indicate that employment is lowering – (5.5% in Australia currently) the amount of roles that offer true development opportunities and the amount of organisations that think outside the square in regards to new talent still remains comparatively low.

Therefore we find a significant amount of passive talent who would consider that next role but the opportunities are still few and far between, so good, hungry, High Potential talent is staying put and as we know if you are not challenged in your role this is a huge dis-engager.

  1. Change

Yes – the one word that either excites or dis-engages instantly!

Change is here to stay but I don’t think the average company can deal or communicate with change well – there are exceptions of course… but change for change sake and knee-jerk reactions to market volatility, the impact of competitors (Amazon being the one that springs to mind) and the like is common place – this brings change fatigue to employees and dis-engagement.

  1. Accountability

This is linked to point #1 – we are all being held more accountable. Analytics, performance measurements, real time continuous performance conversations all lead to us being more accountable in our day to day jobs. In theory, this should lead to more transparency: linking the individual’s goals to the teams and the organisations objectives – awesome! Everyone knows the ‘why’ and how their input impacts the business – awesome!

However: if an accountability framework is not rolled out effectively it can lead to a whole heap of problems!


If you are a business or team manager you are probably reading this and thinking: “Great, I know the reasons but how do I keep my people happy and engaged? This is the million dollar question… quite literally! If your workforce is happy and engaged, it could easily add $1 million to your bottom line.

My tips to help include:

  1. Communicate both ways
  2. Listen – don’t tell
  3. Take constructive feedback
  4. Move underperformers / culture killers on… fast!
  5. Develop / challenge your High Performers and High Potentials (please know the difference between these two group) and yes – you may have to give them a pay rise!

And finally…

  1. Sometimes you just have to let that star employee go, don’t fight it, don’t counter offer as it is too late – the psychological contract has been broken. Instead, Support them through their decision, as long as they have developed with you and are ready to take the next step then you have done your job!

After all if your employees aren’t challenged and happy then they will not be productive!

Stephen Cushion – General Manager – Consulting

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