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Why do people stay in their jobs?

SO what is the real reason people stay or leave an employer? What keeps them productive and engaged, even when the organisation is going through challenging circumstances?

What gives some organisations that special edge that helps retain employees and prevent them from considering job opportunities elsewhere?
As companies are now poised to greater productivity, keeping people motivated is still just as important as ever; organisations with an engaged workforce will be better prepared for the upturn and are likely to attain high levels of productivity.
I believe business is entering a phase where employment dynamics are beginning to change and therefore there is need to have a good understanding of why employees continue to work for them and start asking pertinent questions on what value they achieve from retaining employees.
Do employers really know why their employees stay in their jobs? Over the years I have seen and at times conducted exit interviews for staff that are leaving organisations. This process of exit interviews is not unusual, as companies want to find out why employees are leaving so as look into ways of improving the work environment. Although this process can aid in retaining those who remain in a company,  the company has already lost that particular person or skill. As one author rightly put it: “Asking employees at time of termination why they are leaving is like asking a husband or wife how to improve the marriage on the day before the divorce is final! By that time it’s too late to do much anyway.”
In this vain therefore, it makes sense to be conducting pre-exit interviews way before employees have decided to leave so as to understand why they stay in their jobs? These pre-exit interviews combined with employee satisfaction surveys and attention to employee issues enables companies to be pro-active and come up with interventions that are beneficial both to the organisation and the employee.
The main reasons employees stay in their jobs are:
l Limited opportunities
More often than not, the tough job market and extremely difficult economic conditions faced by Zimbabweans over last two years may have made employees more loyal and devoted to their employers. With the challenges that Zimbabwe has gone through, employees have stayed in their jobs because they really had nowhere else to go and had to make a living somehow.
l Confidence in the leadership
The results also show that confidence in the leadership is an important factor in employees staying in their jobs. A highly visible group of senior leaders increases an employee’s confidence in the business, further increasing their involvement with the organisation and a better understanding of its direction and goals. In difficult times employees are able to see light at the end of the tunnel and therefore stay on.
l Perceived status image and security
Results also showed that some employees stay on because they feel they want to be identified with certain companies because of the perceived the status of the organisations. For some they gain a sense of security in benefits such as medical cover and cover for emergencies and eventualities such as funerals
l Loyalty
For some, especially long serving members of staff, it is an issue of pure old fashioned loyalty. They have been with the company through both and good times and bad times, and through their own experience or through seeing the experiences of others, they have realised that the grass is not always greener on the other side and more often than not it is better to stay with the devil you know.
l Flexibility –– run around with other business activities while still earning a salary
During the hard times of hyper inflation an interesting phenomena had developed where companies turned a blind eye to employees conducting personal business during working hours as a means of supplementing income. For some the workplace was a place where they met their personal business clients. To date there are some who stay in their jobs because there is flexibility to steal company time to do personal business while still getting a salary at the end of the month. 
It is evident from the top five reasons that companies can be more proactive by:
l Increasing employees’ confidence in the company’s leadership by enhancing managers’ leadership capabilities through leadership development programmes and other interventions and;
Capitalising on the need for security, image and status, through creating an atmosphere of high productivity so as to not only enhance company status and image, but also creating capacity to ensure benefits that increase employees’ level of comfort and security.
l  Reward loyal employees
On the other hand, companies need to be very careful about having employees that are either only with them because they have nowhere else to go or are stealing company time for their own activities. There is need to find means of motivating the employees who for now have nowhere to go, but the moment other companies get back on their feet, they will surely leave and create skills gaps that will be extremely difficult to fill. A performance-driven culture based on high levels of accountability will take care of those who steal company time as there is increased accountability and employees are forced to perform or leave.
It is therefore very important for companies to continually analyse the reasons their employees stay in their jobs so as to proactively come up with suitable retention strategies.

Zhangazha is the Human resources development manager with a local listed company. She writes in her personal capacity. She can be contacted ratidzaizh@yahoo.com


By Sharon Zhangazha

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