I have a friend who works in HR. Let’s call him Joe. Joe was so excited to join a new company last year, but today he’s trying to quit. How did things go so terribly wrong in a matter of months?
Here are some reasons that could serve as a warning for others. Take a step back and ask yourself: Could any of these bad HR and management behaviours be eating away at employees in my organisation?
1. Broken promises/lack of transparency.
Joe had a certain set of expectations of what his job role would look like when he agreed to join the company last year. Since then, as it turned out, most of the responsibilities given to him were outside the scope of what was initially discussed when he interviewed.
The lesson: Make sure you are transparent and honest from the very beginning, and specify up front what your expectations for the role are so that candidates don’t feel tricked when they begin working.
2. Bad management.
We’ve all heard that one of the primary reasons employees quit their jobs is because of bad managers. Joe points to his incompetent boss as one of the main reasons for wanting to resign. He says his manager is not only clueless about what team members are doing day to day, but she also doesn’t touch base with them regularly. Questions from the team are usually met with a condescending response, which dissuades anyone from approaching her.
The lesson: Make sure that managers are trained to bring out the very best in their people. It isn’t about appearing intelligent — it’s about being approachable and supportive so team members know someone’s got their back.
3. Micro-management/lack of trust.
Unfortunately, Joe wasn’t given the liberty to make even relatively small decisions without running it up the chain first. This not only caused tremendous inefficiencies, but also demonstrated to him that if he couldn’t be trusted with minor decisions, his career couldn’t conceivably progress at the company.
The lesson: When you hire candidates, there’s some amount of inherent trust that they know what they’re doing, right? Give them opportunities to prove themselves — and watch them step up to the plate, without looking over their shoulders every two minutes.
4. Toxic culture.
Employees on Joe’s team started quitting one after the other — some without even having a backup job lined up — because they said they couldn’t handle the pressure of a poisonous culture anymore without any hope that something might change. That sent a loud message to the rest of the team about how toxic the culture really was.
The lesson: One of the best things you can do to gauge whether you have a healthy corporate culture is to ask your employees about it. Do pulse checks and engagement surveys regularly. Also consider doing exit interviews when employees leave — sometimes these can produce more candid answers. Then actually do something with the results — communicate it to the executive team and put programs or policies in place aimed at rectifying the situation.
5. Zero flexibility.
The head of HR reiterated to Joe’s team that a strict 8-5 or 9-6 workday policy was in place for anyone who chose to take a lunch break. There was also mention of cutting back on work-from-home days, and calling people out for experiencing public transportation delays in the morning. The person actually said something along the lines of how it was up to HR to set the standard for the rest of the company. (I wonder what the rest of the company thinks when HR is a revolving door for employees?)
The lesson: If employees are doing exceptional work and completing all of their assignments, do you really care if they leave early to make their kids’ baseball games or hit the gym in the middle of the day? Stringent anti-work-life balance policies won’t keep employees in line — they’ll simply push them away.
Deanna Hartley writes workplace and employer advice articles for CareerBuilder