The Job Trap

May 31, 2007 | Phil Fersht

Great post from Mark Stelzner's "Inflexion Point"....

http://www.inflexionadvisors.com/blog/

"I was looking over my contact list yesterday evening and came to a stunning (but not shocking) realization. I could only identify five people that are happy with their current job. Virtually everyone I know would jump if a better opportunity presented itself, and most are either actively or passively pursuing side interests and opportunities with the hope that one day soon, that “perfect job” will rear its glorious head.

"Many years ago, a mentor and friend suggested that employment nirvana required three significant attributes - 1) doing something you enjoy and truly believe in; 2) the opportunity for advancement; and 3) decent cash. I would argue that a majority of my former and current colleagues can check at least one box, less than fifty percent can check two, and an increasingly small minority have found that perfect combination of passion, pay and promotion.

"In the industries in which I’ve worked (human resources, the public sector, outsourcing, call centers), attrition is ridiculously high. Industry events turn into reunions as thousands of former colleagues emerge with new logos and titles beneath their names. Thousands more troll the trade show floor hoping to find the next job that just may be the “perfect fit”. It’s well-known lore that many industry executives use such events to lure dissatisfied workers from their current employ.

"Paying the price in all of this are employers and families.

"The gap between the recruiting pitch and life in the trenches approaches Grand Canyon-like proportions as employers become increasingly desperate for talent. Recruiters are typically incented on volume, not retention, so forcing a square peg into a round hole is second nature. Hiring managers are often too busy to perform proper due diligence and instead need a warm body in seat as quickly as possible. And executives stand to lose precious dollars from their P&L if preapproved headcount are not onboarded in a timely fashion.

"Unfortunately, families pay the biggest price. Forced to endure the 24-hour lifecyle of their loved ones, the mirage of work/life balance and predictable employment is more ellusive than ever. With the new job “high” fading ever faster, loved ones must suffer through the sad realization that this, alas, was yet again not the job everyone had hoped for. And the cycle continues….

I want to blame someone for this mess but I struggle to identify who. The job boards and recruiting technologies simply present what is entered - garbage in, garbage out. Employees feel the grass is always greener - and is often is - but everything comes at a price. Employers are not evil-doers yet cannot clearly convey what life is really like behind closed doors. This forces us to put our trust in our friends who know these firms well. And when that fails, our gut instinct is the only remaining barometer."

I'd like to add to Mark's comments:  the work environment has changed dramatically over the last 4-5 years.  Executives are expected to check their blackberries every 30 minutes - right up to midnight, email checking is now commonplace over the entire weekend.  The work environment intensity has magnified significantly as employees become tethered, accounted, and measured like never before.  Some employees are just getting burned out and employers are getting increasinly expert at playing the "churn and burn" game.  In my opinion, the employee/employer "trust" has hit an all time low - it's all about "what can you do for me today"...  Companies need to work harder at enforcing work-life balance, or we will see increasing employee burn-out in the workplace.

Posted in: HR Strategy

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