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Employers are often clueless as to why people stay in their jobs. For some reason, companies often believe that it’s the pay and the benefits spelled out in the employee handbook that keep people from leaving for other employment opportunities.

Employers are wrong. Very wrong.

People stay in their jobs when they enjoy their work. Think about this concept. No one wants to go to a job they don’t like. Most people want to know that their jobs make a difference and that makes everything else that happens more bearable. For instance, if you are asked to work overtime routinely, you’ll probably do that without hesitation if it means solving problems, using your creativity to find a better way of working or because you like serving customers.

Conversely, if you don’t like the work you are doing, you will be miserable and resent being asked to work extra hours.

Employers should always think about how demanding they are and what needs their workers have. They may not even think about the need for a working parent to get away for a couple of hours during the day for a school play, or to take off two hours early to get to a Little League game. But those things are important quality of life issues and the more accommodating the workplace policy is, the happier the workers will be.

If the president of the company or other senior executives are workaholics, that can send a dangerous message through the employee ranks that work is the most important thing. But if those same executives take time away from their jobs for family obligations, they become role models for a healthy balance between work and personal lives.

Too often good workers feel they aren’t earning an appropriate salary. That’s because they work harder than others for the same pay. A good pay system is as attentive to the poor performers as it is to the good ones. The poor performers are weeded out and the top performers are given chances for training or more interesting assignments.

They also need to believe that they are earning a salary that is in line with what employees in other companies earn for doing similar work.

Employees enjoy working at adequately staffed companies. When the economy slows and the workforce is reduced, companies often expect remaining workers to pick up the slack. Maybe they ask workers to work longer hours, or work faster, or handle more responsibilities than they did before.

It is crucial for management to look at each job and determine precisely what is an essential job duty and what can be eliminated from the list of job duties. Workers also aren’t inclined to work harder unless everyone is sharing in that mission. If they believe everyone is pitching in, they are more likely to accept an increased workload.

It isn’t all about pay. Workers want employers who are helping them live good lives.

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annmassie Oct. 1, 2011 @ 12:56 a.m.

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