I'm constantly amazed by how people who are charged with managing people try to make life much more complex and difficult than it needs to be.

When people join a new company, they are usually excited by the new opportunities and believe in the vision of the organization. They choose the job based on the best fit with their world view. This assumes of course that they have their choice of jobs. If they need a job to eat, the dynamic is quite different.

Is pay the most important factor?

While the compensation plan is certainly one component of why people choose to work for you, it is rarely an element that determines whether they remain working for you. Of course, this all assumes that your wage structure is fairly close to what other companies are paying for similar work. If somebody can double their pay, they may consider other employment.

But with that exception aside, the reality is that there are really only three important reasons why employees either love their job or dislike it enough to make them want to leave:

1. People want to work for a company they believe is doing good work: Good work means it's something they are proud to tell their neighbors they do. It means that the work is needed by society and is of benefit to the community.

2. People want to feel they are good at what they do: Nobody likes going to work every day and doing a job they know they don't do well. Despite all the pop psych pabulum being dispensed today, people still generate a sense of accomplishment when they know they are able to do something useful to help the company achieve its goals. As long as those goals are worth doing.

3. People want to know their company appreciates what they do: Certainly the rate of pay is one indicator of how much a company appreciates an employee, but it is only a minor part in the eyes of most people. It is more important that the leadership of the organization recognizes the contributions being made and shows genuine appreciation through personal contact with the employee. This can be a simple thank you, or it can be a more detailed conversation.

An auto-generated birthday card robo signed by the president of the company is not what I'm talking about. I am talking about the person who directly supervises the employee taking the time to actually notice what someone does and provide genuine acknowledgment he/she is doing good work.

Why do good people leave good companies?

The reality is that when good companies lose good people, it is usually because they do not care for their immediate supervisor. Typically, they feel unappreciated and start looking for other options.

If you want to attract and retain good employees who are dedicated to providing excellent work for your company, you must do four things.

  1. Inspire your employees with a clear statement of why your business mission is important.
  2. Provide your employees with the training and guidance they need to be good at what they do.
  3. Continually notice what they do and celebrate their successes.
  4. Get rid of supervisors who don't execute steps 1-3 well.