Employee leaving for more money

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve surely had the experience of a team member handing you his/her resignation and telling you they’ve been offered a position that pays more. For years, I would simply throw my hands up and say “I cannot compete with government, industry, or big firms. They have much deeper pockets to attract people. What can I do?”.

lack of money

What can I do?

For years, I thought I was doomed to continually lose my good people to my competition. Until it dawned on me that seldom is money the biggest contributor to job satisfaction. Yes, the employee resigning may be telling you they’re leaving for better pay. But the reality of it is that the reason they are truly leaving is that the benefits of working for their employer does not equate to the pain. Employment is like any other transaction. We weigh what we’re getting for what we’re putting out. Let me clarify.

Regardless of what I’m buying, whether it be a motorcycle, a vacation or even a hamburger. The question I ask myself is whether the purchase I’m about to make is greater or equal to the effort put into earning this money I will be parting with to buy this motorcycle, vacation, or burger. Only a fool will enter into a transaction where they will knowingly receive less than what they pay.  

Using this mindset, consider this. Consciously or not, everyone of your team members are continually asking themselves, “Is working here a good deal for me? What am I getting in return for my time and efforts?” Well of course, money is one of the things they’ll look at. But the fact is, there’s a LOT more to this equation. 

Here are some of the things that will become part of this calculation:

  • Am I having fun?
  • Am I learning?
  • Am I setting myself up for the future?
  • Is this job preparing me for life?
  • Is my marketability in the workforce increasing at an acceptable rate?
  • Do I feel like I’m contributing?
  • Do I feel valued by my superiors and my peers?
  • Does the work I do have meaning?
  • Am I making a difference?
  • Do I feel important?
  • Do I like the people around me?
  • Do I like the people I’m working for?
  • Does the business core values agree with mine?
  • What’s the work life balance like?
  • Am I given the flexibility to take care of my family without judgement?

And of course, this list could go on and on and on. I’m sure some of you reading this are probably thinking I forgot the most important thing, whatever that “thing” is.  

The point I’m making here is this: If someone resigns and says, “I’m leaving because I was offered more money”. I dare say that odds are excellent that what they’re really saying is that the benefits of working for you, benefits being the above list and more, including the money and benefits, just doesn’t equate.  

Okay, so I’m a very small firm, and I may not be able to compete with the bigger companies and government, but I can sure as hell beat their pants in so many other areas (see list above), and certainly tip the scale in my favor. And this, I’ve discovered, is especially true with millennials.  Money isn’t the only thing being weighed on their scale, even if they seem to suggest that it is. Trust me, IT’S NOT.

tipping scale - money versus hearth

Now of course, you will have those whose scale needs calibrating. And you know of whom I speak. Those entitled brats who are never satisfied with what they get for their output. But don’t assume that everybody thinks they can generate heat without bringing firewood to the party. Fortunately for us employers, there are still a LOT of people who understand that to build a great big bonfire, we need to gather and throw in a lot of firewood. And those are the people you want on your team.

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