Why Great Employees Quit You, and Great Consultants Don’t

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Why Great Employees QuitWorldwide, companies are recognizing and responding to the importance of company culture to the retention of top employees. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Globoforce’s 2015 Annual Survey of Human Resource (HR) Challenges shows that retaining great (and even average) employees is consistently their biggest struggle. The “War for Talent,” predicted for over a decade, is now raging with 40% of the 6,000 companies surveyed reporting that turnover is their most pressing concern.

The study concludes that company cultural change, incorporating impactful employee appreciation and recognition programs, is the key to reducing turnover. However, there’s a great deal more to employee dissatisfaction and disloyalty than not feeling appreciated. Forbes, the Huffington Post and Entrepreneur magazines (online) indicate that the other elemental factors that make your best people perpetual job-hunters are that they:

  • Don’t fully understand the organization’s vision and how to specifically and measurably contribute to it;
  • Aren’t empowered to or assisted in finding individual purpose from the mission and implementing it;
  • Experience little or no empathy or loyalty from management;
  • Aren’t given intrinsic motivation, the non-monetized type that includes, for example, being a desired participant in initiatives or encouragement to want to do good work for one self’s own empowerment;
  • Can’t see a clear career path with the company and they want one;
  • Aren’t having fun—work is drudgery;
  • Find the company rules to be arbitrary and pointless;
  • Resent the ‘treat everyone equally’ policies that don’t reward the best people any differently than the sub-standard ones;
  • Are prevented from pursuing what they are passionate about;
  • Are overworked;
  • Are discouraged by management’s lack of fulfillment of promises and commitments;
  • Don’t receive enough intellectual and creative challenge; and
  • Aren’t receiving skill development assistance.

No wonder so many companies’ HR departments are a revolving door.

It’s highly likely that you are well aware of some, if not all of these turnover instigators, and that you are working diligently to transform your organization’s culture to alleviate them. Change takes time. Meanwhile, are your frustrations building because things just aren’t getting done? If this is so, it’s time to realize why it makes sense to bring in contractors to help resolve the issues now. If not now, when?

It’s an oversimplification to say that employees are interested only in themselves and contractors are interested only in your projects because both employees and contractors are interested in monetized contribution, and both have the capacity for loyalty. However, on the 13 employee dissatisfaction issues above, contractors/consultants are essentially impervious. Contractors with the skill levels commensurate or even more advanced than company employees will get the job done with the following advantages:

  • Don’t need to understand and embrace the organization’s vision to commit to doing the work that needs to be done, because that’s what they are there for—to focus on and implement specifics essential to the vision.
  • Arrive on-site loaded with individual purpose from their mission, not yours, as they’ve chosen to be hired guns and that requires powerful self-motivation.
  • Aren’t there to build meaningful long-term relationships and enduring loyalty; they’re there to get the job done right, fast and profitably, and move on to their next challenge at your company or someone else’s.
  • Are armed with their own intrinsic motivation, knowing full well that if they don’t do good work and have a lot of pride in that, their opportunities will quickly diminish.
  • Have a clear career path of their own making: to continue being the best contractor and/or consultant they can be and work for exciting companies on exciting projects;
  • Likely chose consulting because they know what their boredom and dissatisfaction level is and know they will always have fun working because theirs is so variable.
  • Just follow the company rules if they apply to the contract because they aren’t there to make policy but to get things done.
  • Aren’t part of the ‘treat everyone equally’ pool–it doesn’t affect them.
  • Are doing exactly what they are passionate about;
  • Expect to be overworked as that’s usually just the way it plays out.
  • Have a contract that ensures both parties’ fulfillment of promises and commitments;
  • Make their own intellectual and creative challenges as part of their delivery of the work for hire; and
  • Obtain skill development assistance on their own whenever they need it.

Ultimately, if you fix your organization’s culture, you will win the War for Talent internally. If you bring in the right contractors to get the work done meantime, you won’t lose the battle for profitability. In fact, the very contractors you retain are very likely quite good at helping you solve your turnover challenges while possibly identifying and resolving your other operational excellence issues.


Additional Reading

Assessing Corporate Culture

Executives: Get Top Performance from Your Contractors and Remote Teams by Communicating Culture


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