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˜˜We™re not getting paid enough for the type of abuse we take from
the customers.™™

Sacri¬cing Family/Personal Life

• ˜˜My number one complaint is that I do not get to spend enough
time with my family. I have so much trouble being able to schedule
time-off for certain events. All I would want is leave without pay. I
will continue to give XYZ Company 110 percent, but I need more
• ˜˜ABC Company does not acknowledge the fact their there is life
outside of work.™™

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• ˜˜I feel that XYZ Company is a workplace for single people. It does
not accommodate employees with families in regards to scheduling.™™
• ˜˜I think they need to work on scheduling more weekends off.™™

In¬‚exibility of Work Hours
• ˜˜Make working hours more ¬‚exible for those going to night
• ˜˜Need to have ¬‚ex-scheduling”something like any eight hours be-
tween 6 .. and 10 °.. you pick.™™
• ˜˜There were not enough chairs for the RNs to sit and do their charts.
Despite working on your feet for up to fourteen hours without sit-
ting, we did not get breaks and were told that we didn™t get paid for
them. I was required to be in the building at lunch but without pay
unless I took an urgent phone call. If I needed to leave at lunch, I
needed to ¬nd a medical doctor willing to take calls and inform the
receptionist. If you spoke what was on your mind you were consid-
ered a troublemaker.™™
• ˜˜Family comes second to ABC Company”mandatory overtime on

Impact on Customers
• ˜˜XYZ Company expects employees to increase production while
failing to realize that increased production may lead to unsatis¬ed
• ˜˜We are so short-staffed that we talk to one customer right after the
other with no time in between. Customer service is decimated due
to this fact.™™
• ˜˜Our manager short-staffed us to the point that it jeopardized pa-
tients. She only cares about saving money in her budget.™™

No Fun
• ˜˜We used to have Christmas parties and gifts. We never see anything
like this anymore. Work should be a little fun, not so stressful.™™

Inadequate Bene¬ts
• ˜˜One personal day per year?! Other employers give as many as

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

• ˜˜Employees should not have to wait ¬ve years to get more than two
weeks vacation.™™
• ˜˜I was very frustrated by ABC Company™s health bene¬ts. I was
diagnosed with breast cancer”and I feel I have had to ¬ght to get
the bills paid.™™
• ˜˜When people are sick they should not be penalized for it by receiv-
ing an occurrence. In fact, when there is a death in the family you
should not be given an occurrence. We are given a certain amount
of paid sick days and those should not be held against us in our raises.
They are!!!!!!™™
• ˜˜Maternity leave is poor. An employee has to be with the company
for a year before receiving any maternity leave.™™

How Big a Problem Is Stress?
These kinds of comments indicate that stress is indeed a problem in the
workforce, but how big a problem is it really? Here are some ¬ndings from
several surveys:

• 55 percent of workers said they sometimes felt overwhelmed by how
much work they had to do.1
• 40 percent of workers report that their jobs are ˜˜very or extremely
• 26 percent of workers say they are ˜˜often or very often burned out
or stressed by their work.™™3
• 29 percent report feeling ˜˜quite a bit or extremely stressed at work.™™4
• 25 percent of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor
in their lives.5
• Health care expenditures are nearly 50 percent greater for workers
who report high levels of stress.6
• 25 percent of employees do not take all of the vacation to which
they are entitled because of the demands of their jobs.7
• Lost work time due to depression costs companies $31 billion to $41
billion per year in lost productivity.8
• 49 percent of employees who experience high levels of feeling over-
worked say they are likely to seek employment elsewhere within the

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coming year, compared to only 30 percent who report low levels of
feeling overworked.9
• 79 percent of employers think they take care of their employees, yet
only 44 percent of employees agree.10
• 70 percent of employees don™t think there is a healthy balance be-
tween their work and their personal lives.11
• 61 percent of workers would give up some pay for more family

Causes of Increased Stress
Judging by these survey results, it seems clear that one quarter to one half
of all workers are feeling some level of dysfunction due to stress, which is
undoubtedly having a negative impact on their productivity and the proba-
bility they will stay with their employers.
Several factors are contributing to current levels of employee stress:
companies squeezing as much productivity as they possibly can from all
workers in a hyper-competitive global economy; the impact of downsizing
the workforce while not proportionately downsizing the work to be done;
continuing worries about job security as employees read about downsiz-
ings, mergers, and acquisitions; heightened levels of free-¬‚oating anxiety
that have persisted since the 9/11 terrorist attacks; and the continuing in-
crease in two-career couples, working single parents, and workers with
elder care responsibilities.

Signs That Your Workers May Be Stressed-Out or
There are a wide range of symptoms, when it comes to watching for over-
stressed and overworked employees. Here are some that show up sooner
or later:

• Consistently work late
• Work through lunch
• Work through sickness
• Seem more fatigued than usual
• Take work home

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

• Rush to meet deadlines
• Express frustration
• Don™t take vacations
• Appear increasingly cynical, forgetful, or irritable
• Try too hard to please a new boss
• Have relocated from a distant location
• Have recently experienced a disappointment or failure at work
• Have experienced a signi¬cant family transition or trauma

While most researchers agree that some workers are more easily
stressed than others, most agree that negative working conditions spread
the stress among all workers. Many of these conditions have been touched
on in previous chapters”mismatch of the individual to the job, lack of
worker participation in decisions, feeling left out of the loop, frustrations
about the lack of career advancement, and unpleasant physical environ-
ments, to name a few. Other factors include: infrequent rest breaks due to
constant work demands, a constant hectic pace, stultifying routine, seem-
ingly senseless tasks, and con¬‚ict and resentment among coworkers
The ultimate question is whether the issue of worker stress is on the
radar screens of managers and executives. Certainly it is from a personal
perspective”most managers and professionals report feeling overworked,
and work signi¬cantly longer hours than other employees.13 But do manag-
ers care enough to actually make plans to reduce worker stress as a means
of increasing productivity, engagement, and retention? As we shall see,
there are many managers who do, and whose success stories inspire others
to act in new ways.

Healthy vs. Toxic Cultures
An organization™s culture is a fact of life that must be faced, and many
organizations need to face the fact that their cultures are toxic. Toxic cul-
tures are simply unhealthy environments, often characterized by the fol-

• Forcing workers into choosing between having a life and having a

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• Seeing workers as costs, rather than assets in which to invest
• Viewing workers merely as resources, not as people
• Treating employees as if they are lucky just to have a job
• Attempting to control employees rather than empower or form part-
nerships with them
• Hoarding information at top levels of management as means of main-
taining power and control
• Leaders so self-involved or isolated that they are out of touch with
employee attitudes and feelings
• In¬ghting and con¬‚ict between departments
• Behaving in ways that are inconsistent with their professed values, or
rewarding and tolerating such behavior
• Blaming others for one™s own mistakes or seeking credit for others™
accomplishments and ideas
• Lying, covering up the truth, or otherwise behaving unethically
• Constantly changing direction, frequently driven by management
fads, but not committed to a consistent long-range strategy
• Believing that employees cannot be trusted

Any list would be incomplete, as there are any numbers of ways a toxic
organization might manifest its toxicity. As we know, an organization

What™s Your Organizational Civility Score?
Envisionworks, a Geneva, Illinois, management consulting ¬rm, has
created what it calls an Organizational Civility Index that surveys
employees on how they treat each other. Questions on the index
ask whether employees are reprimanded when they ˜˜are rude and
disrespectful to other employees,™™ and whether coworkers ˜˜shout at
each other,™™ or ˜˜block each others™ success™™ or ˜˜compliment each
others™ work.™™
Founder and president Kevin Schmidt says that most of the com-
panies that score poorly are headed by executives who put harsh de-
mands on employees and belittle rather than praise staff. Schmidt says
he has never met a monster boss, but says he has told executives, ˜˜It
must be awfully hard to be you because people hate you.™™ When hit
with this feedback, some break down.14

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

might have a generally healthy culture, but have managers who create toxic
subcultures in their departments. Conversely, a manager might have built a
healthy culture in a generally toxic organization, although this would be
less likely and more dif¬cult to achieve.
The growing cost of health care is causing many companies to actually
start assessing their ˜˜organizational health.™™ A senior executive with Med-
stat Group, a health-care information management company based in Ann
Arbor, Michigan, told the Wall Street Journal that corporations are starting
to realize their ˜˜psychological health™™ can be a major driver of costs. Their
˜˜health and productivity management study™™ of forty-three large cor-
porations found that in 1999, during the height of the talent wars, ˜˜turn-
over-related costs rose to 37 percent of the health and productivity

More Than Just the Right Thing to Do
Increasingly, companies are realizing that taking care of their employees as
people is not just the right thing to do, it™s also good for business. In the
past decade, an overwhelming body of evidence has accumulated showing
a strong connection between treating people right and business pro¬t-
James Heskett, Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger, in their book, The
Service-Pro¬t Chain, persuasively diagrammed the links in the chain that
leads from a starting point of internal quality of work life, to employee
productivity, loyalty, and satisfaction, to quality customer service, to cus-
tomer satisfaction, to customer loyalty, ultimately resulting in greater reve-
nues and pro¬ts (see Figure 9-1).16
In his book, Treat People Right! How Organizations and Individuals Can
Propel Each Other into a Virtuous Spiral of Success, Edward Lawler presents
evidence strongly supporting the logic of these links, but also makes an
astute observation: ˜˜At the core of many people™s concern about the wis-
dom of treating people right is the belief that there is an irreconcilable
con¬‚ict between what is good for the business and what is good for em-
Some business leaders have been reluctant to embrace the idea that
benevolent people-management practices can be a driver of pro¬ts. They
know that treating people well is a good thing, but also believe that nice
guys ¬nish last, that the toughest and meanest survive, and that if employees

Figure 9-1.
Links in the service“pro¬t chain.


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