160. The Misconception of Quitting
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs every 4.3 years.
To be clear, when I say “the average person”, I don’t mean millennials. They are far from average. In fact, 25-34 year olds are even more transient than others, changing their jobs every 2.8 years.
The fact is, career growth most often happens when you move to a different job at a different company. The average person works 12 different jobs throughout their career. That’s a lot of moving.
Meanwhile, a whopping 70% of people in the workforce are looking to change jobs - half of whom are looking to completely change their careers*.
Ok, put those statistics on the back burner for a hot second. We’ll get back to them shortly.
I’ve had more than a few leaders over the years boast to me that “nobody has ever quit from my company.”
They say it with pride, as if it’s a good thing. The goal for those leaders is to never have anybody quit. Ever.
It is a misplaced belief for leaders to think that people quitting a job is bad. Let’s get this straight: It isn’t bad for people to quit.
To the contrary, the reasons people quit tell a lot about a company - the good and the bad.
If a lot of people suddenly quit their job at a particular company, that’s definitely a warning sign. You know what’s also a warning sign? A company where nobody quits.
One of the primary responsibilities of successful leaders is to help their employees grow in their careers.
Successful leaders nurture the talents of their subordinates, mentor them and help educate them on how to succeed.
Oftentimes an employee’s skillset will grow faster than the company’s needs. When a person’s skills exceed the needs of any available role in the organization, it is natural for them to get another job and quit. It’s how they grow.
That’s why people change jobs every 2.8 or 4.3 years - to grow.
(See, I told you we’d get back to the statistics).
The 3 Reasons Nobody Will Quit
As we learned above, 70% of people are looking for another job, half of whom want to change careers. There are a lot of jobs available now. I just did a search on LinkedIn and there are 2M jobs available with the title of “manager”.
You should assume that almost every employee of yours with a LinkedIn profile is being contacted by recruiters with new job opportunities.
Knowing all of these facts, if you tell me “nobody ever quit from my company”, that leads me to assume one of three potential reasons:
1) Incompetence: You put people in positions beyond their skillset. They’d be buffoons to leave since they wouldn’t get the same role or compensation anywhere else. So they don’t quit. And that’s bad.
2) Contentedness: Your company culture does not promote growth and advancement. Instead, you attract people who are content with no upward mobility. People don’t quit, because they don’t care. Unfortunately, innovation and productivity come from people who care. Strike two.
3) Miracle: You have an amazingly supportive and nurturing culture and you’re paying everybody so well that they can’t be convinced to work elsewhere.
Let’s be real, miracles are very rare. The third option isn’t happening.
Moving On Up
So if you’re one of those people taking pride that nobody has quit, look in the mirror. Do you have a bunch of under-qualified people in their roles? Do you have a culture of complacency? It’s probably one of the two.
I never want great employees to leave, but I still have pride when they find a job better than the one I had hired them to do. A person leaving for a better role means I was successful in expanding their skills and growing their career. That makes me happy.
It’s when people leave for a similar job or, heaven forbid, a career step down, that I need to take a good look at my behavior.
Next time somebody tells you that nobody ever quits from their company, ask why and cross your fingers that it’s a miracle.
*Inside tip: the job with the highest growth rate: wind turbine technician.
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This Week’s Book Review
by Blake Crouch
My rating: 8 of 10
Little did I know, when I picked up this book, that Blake Crouch was already an internationally best-selling author. As it turns out, Upgrade should be another international bestseller for him - especially after the movie is released (yes, this book was optioned by Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment)
Upgrade is a cross between Jack Reacher and Walter Isaacson’s “Codebreakers”.
It takes place at some point in the not so distant future, after the world was decimated by gene editing mistakes. The Gene Protection Agency was...
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Millennials might change jobs fast but Gen Z changes CAREERS & jobs even faster. An Australian study of 5000+ 18 to 29 year olds found they are likely to have 17 jobs AND 5 different careers. :)
And another reason some workers don't quit is fear (not something executives should boast about when referring to low-turnover.) Changing a job emotes the same level of stress as grieving the death of a close friend. Changing a job is scary. First you can get rejected and who needs that stress? Second, you have to meet a bunch of strangers (HR and hiring managers) who aren't always nice, prepared, or professional. Third, searching for a job adds more uncertainty to your already uncertain, unpredictable life. At least, you know your miserable job is miserable!
Unfortunately for the business and this employee's co-workers, not quitting is not a winning formula.