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  1. Once the cash is in the bank, what makes the job you do really satisfying?

    September 22, 2015 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    Research has shown that for most of us, the ideal job combines meaning – the idea that doing our job makes the world a better place – with a decent income. The emphasis on one or the other depends on our values, priority, career stage, and individual factors such as our family situation and spending habits.

    The evidence about the link between money and happiness is confusing and even contradictory. Some studies have shown that more money only brings a certain kind of happiness, others that once our lives are relatively comfortable, more money makes little difference to our level of happiness. The amount of money that brings happiness in the US has even been quantified: US$75,000 per year.

    It’s even been suggested that happiness buys money, as studies have shown that happy people are better at earning more.

    And then there’s the downside: generally, better paid jobs bring with them longer hours, more responsibility, less leisure time and more stress. A marketing executive who moved cities several times with his family in pursuit of the highest-paying job recounts how once he had reached his target income and moved for the fourth time in as many years, his job with a company in the manufacturing sector almost immediately came under threat. The long hours and the daily commute were exhausting him.  It took years of upheaval for him to realise that money can’t buy you job love.

    Job satisfaction, in the sense of your work feeling meaningful to you and making a difference in the world, may well be easier to pursue, and more within your control.

    1. Work for an organisation with values aligned to your own

    First understand your own values: family? Career progression? Spirituality? Health? Then explore the values of any organisation you might work for. Do they offer generous parental leave? Are religious holidays observed and respected? Is there a mentoring program in place? Is going for a run at lunch time facilitated and encouraged? It will increase your satisfaction if not only the role, but also the culture is matched to what you find important in life.

    1. Understand why you work (other than for the money)

    Of course being paid is crucial. But there must be other reasons to drive you out of bed in the morning. Is it the challenge and the opportunity to prove yourself? Do you need to be with other people, cooperating to get things done? Do you need to be creative, or to help others? Look for the motivating forces behind the job itself. If your urge is to be creative but you spend most of your day managing people, you are less likely to be satisfied.

    1. Place value on the work you do

    Almost invariably your work will add value to the lives of others. The trick is to see it. An insurance salesperson reported finding no meaning in her job until a client pointed out to her that the recommendations she had made saved his business and his livelihood when a fire destroyed his takeaway shop.  Take time to seek out the value in your work if you feel it may have little, and you may well be surprised.

    So who are the most satisfied workers? It depends who you ask, but the occupation that most consistently scores the highest in surveys is clergy, with around 98% of clergy members of all faiths reporting that their work makes the world a better place. Farmers and fitness instructors did pretty well too. This is not to suggest that you move to the country or give it all up for a position in your local gym, but it’s well worth looking more closely at what job satisfaction means to you.


  2. Staff Retention: How will YOU keep your top talent in 2011?

    April 19, 2011 by Jenna

    During a lively discussion forum last Wednesday morning, Challenge Consulting explored trends in employee retention with a group of clients.  

    Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines retention as “1. the act of keeping someone or something, 2. the ability to keep something”. In the context of business when we talk about retention, we talk about ‘keeping’ employees as the direct opposite to ‘losing’ employees or employee turnover.

    Employee turnover is one of the most largely measured and reported statistics in business. But given that we know that on average 20% of the Australian Labour Market will change jobs each year[i], how significant are these turnover statistics, really?

    During our discussion forum we explored this question and more, including:

    • What is retention?
    • What are the motivational drivers that keep our participants with their employer?
    • How do we or how should we measure retention drivers?
    • What retention strategies are smart organisations implementing in an attempt to keep their top talent?

    Consistent with organisational research and theory on retention[ii], we identified common themes in what ‘retained’ our participants with their employers, including: job satisfaction (i.e. interesting and challenging work), job embededness (i.e. a feeling of belonging to a team or social network in the organisation), employee voice (i.e. feeling that their opinions are heard), and role clarity (i.e. understanding role and responsibilities and how it directly relates to the organisational purpose). What we also found were a range of individual motivators that were influencing retention of the ‘top talent’ in the room, including: flexible work arrangements, career development, training and mentoring, and a range of company values.

    It was clear that a one-size-fits-all strategy for retention would be impossible to retain each of our discussion forum participants, so how can retention drivers be measured at the larger organisational level? According to industry research[iii], 95% of Australian companies conduct Exit Interviews, an emerging trend is that 45% of Australian companies are now conducting Stay Interviews (periodic in-depth interviews with existing employees to measure key retention drivers, starting right from the first 3 months), not to forget the common practice of Organisational Surveying.

    During the discussion forum we debated how well organisations were utilising these and other sources of retention data, i.e. was the right information being captured to measure retention drivers and then once the data was collected was the data being used strategically to manage retention initiatives? Google’s Project Oxygen[iv] provided us with an example of an organisation analysing all available employee data to identify common retention drivers and more specifically develop their Google Rules for managers.

    By the end of our discussion forum, there was agreement from participants that not all turnover is negative and not all retention is positive. In fact, some turnover can be a positive and some retention can be a negative! But as Australia already shows the signs of another deepening skills shortage, there is no doubt that when their key motivators are not met, talented employees can find other employers that will meet these drivers. Does your organisation need help identifying the key retention drivers for your most talented people? Challenge Consulting can help you measure retention drivers through our Organisational Effectiveness Profiling and Exit Interview Consulting services, help you develop managers with a focus on retention with our Effective Supervision Workshop and help you build a strategic approach to managing retention in your organisation.

    What do you think smart organisations should be doing to keep their most talented people and what motivates you to stay with your current employer?


    [i] Sweet, R. (2011). The mobile worker: concepts, issues, implications. NCVER Occasional Paper, Adelaide.

    [ii] Mardanov, I., Heischmidt., & Henson, A. (2008). Leader-member exchange and job satisfaction bond and predicted employee turnover. Journal of Leaderhship and Organizational Studies, 15, 159-175.

    Ramesh, A., Gelfand, M. J. (2010). Will they stay or will they go? The role of job embeddedness in predicting turnover in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 807-823.

    Siebert, S. & Zubanov, N. (2009). Searching for the optimal level of employee turnover: A study of a large UK retail organisation. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 294-313.

    Swider, B.W., Boswell, W.R., & Zimmerman, R.D. (2011). Examining the job search-turnover relationship: The role of embeddedness, job satisfaction, and available alternatives, Journal of Applied Psychology. 96, 432-441.

    [iii] Lambert, L. (2010). All aboard: Identifying flight risks in probationary staff can help retain promising talent. Recruitment Extra, Nov 2010, 26-27.

    [iv] Bryant, A. (2011). Google’s quest to build a better boss, New York Times. 




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