Job Impressions - An Interesting Read

I have a couple of weeks of down time before I start my new job at Microsoft (though I wouldn't exactly call it downtime with moving and wrapping up affairs). I'm getting really excited, but as with any new chapter in life -- particularly one that involves a career and relocation -- I have to analyze what lead me down this path. At the time, I didn't do much thinking about why I was applying elsewhere, but by updating my resume and accepting interviews, I decided my current career path was coming to a close.

I found an interesting article on the MSN Careers site today:
Six Signs That You Should Run, Not Walk From Your New Job.

This was an interesting read. I didn't look at this from the angle of interpreting a new job, but rather in analyzing my old jobs. The article presents 6 signs that you should seek greener pastures. Here's an excerpt from reason #2:

2. You were shown to a cubicle your first day of work, given a company manual and haven't been spoken to since. Even if you have years of experience, you should always be given some kind of orientation or training during your first days on a new job.

Wow, this one did hit home: in one of my jobs before Microsoft (I'll protect the innocent here), I had no orientation, no welcome basket. I had to find and hunt down my manager on my first day. I wasn't introduced to the managers I would be working with. Now, I'm a big boy and can handle this, but it really started things off on the wrong foot. Every other company I worked for had extensive orientations.

4. After two weeks on the job, you are already halfway to becoming the employee with the most seniority. One of the biggest issues for human resources professionals today is employee retention. You will notice that most of the country's top companies have employees who have been around for years. Lengthy employee tenure is often a sign that the company is doing something right.

It's obviously a lot more common to see employees come and go in today's world than it was twenty years ago. I'm now moving on to my fourth company (Microsoft) in my professional career since college. In less than a year, I've witnessed 7 out of 13 people in my team leave the company -- that's more than a 50% turnover rate. The astonishing thing about this statistic is that all of these are high-level positions (including some senior and management level) and aren't internships or entry level jobs.

When I decided to leave Group W, the company had been through a number of management and ownership changes. The fact is, I outgrew the company. At the time my view wasn't so rational: I had witnessed many friends and incredibly talented people leave. Ultimately, though, most (or all) companies will go through this attrition.

I decided to do some digging around the internet to look into corporate turnover rates. The stats I were able to find were somewhat interpretive. In corporate America, I'd venture to guess an average of 10% - 20% is considered a normal, even healthy turnover rate. One article I found criticised Walmart's employee benefits and morale, leading to the company's 50% turnover rate.

Monster has an article regarding employee retention (found here). There's little any company can do to appeal to all of its employees. But some things seem standard: employees need a sense of responsibility, accountability, recognition, stability, and to understand their place in an organization.

Unfortunately most retention attempts are too little, too late. The most common approach? The counteroffer. Think about it: you've decided to take on a new challenge; something in your current career has made you want to move on. Most counteroffers are strictly financial, some offer promises of change and advancement. But, this is only done in the face of losing an employee. Not very satisying. Psychologically, staying is attractive; financially, it works out on both sides: recruiting a new person is far more expensive than paying an existing employee more, especially if there are projects on the plate with tight deadlines.

Here are a few articles on counteroffers, and why you should avoid them:

http://www.careerjournal.com/columnists/perspective/20040809-fmp.html
http://www.thetravelinstitute.com/home.cfm?tn=standard&menuid=125&navids=74,125&pageid=132
http://www.mdsisearch.com/counter.htm
http://www.careerperfect.com/CareerPerfect/interviewFAQs10.htm

Comments (1) -

Michael K. Campbell
Michael K. Campbell
2/22/2005 3:17:15 PM #

Brian,



Great post. I had to just shake my head and laugh when I read those 6 signs. My experience was a dead-ringer on 2-3 of them.

Thanks for your insights, and for the great links. That article by Paul Hawkinson (careerjournal.com) is well worded and really exposes the sad reality of counter-offers.

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