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The Secrets of Employee Retention - Why I’m Still Here

May 25, 2017

Amie_Lawrence.jpgI recently celebrated my 17-year work anniversary with Select International. Seventeen years with the same company. I type it and I can’t believe it. After an internship right out of graduate school, I joined Select International as my first professional job using my graduate degree. I have watched colleagues come and go. I have watched my graduate school friends move from job to job and company to company. Yet, I’m still in the same place. I realize this is rare and have spent some time thinking about why I’m still here.

First of all, out of curiosity, I looked up how many jobs most people have in a lifetime. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that the average is 10 and that number is likely to increase for the younger generation (around 12 to 15). If you count the jobs I had in high school, college, and graduate school, I might get close to 10, but I’m lagging way behind the average in professional jobs. So, why am I still working for the same organization? Throughout my tenure, I’ve asked myself the same question. Should I be looking for more? Your friends and colleagues are moving on, why aren’t you? My answers fully support the results you’ll find in I/O literature around job satisfaction, turnover, and employee retention. I feel very fortunate to have found a place that fulfills my work needs. Here are my reasons for staying, and I think these ring true for a lot of professionals who are happy and engaged in their jobs.

  • Job Fit: At the top of the list is job fit. I like my job. I really like my job. I get to do things that are interesting and intellectually stimulating. I went to school for Industrial/Organizational psychology and I received a doctorate in a field most people didn’t know existed. I happened to gravitate towards a very specific area of this field, test development. I found a job where I get to do this! I get to use my training and be creative and analytical at the same time. I have had a hand in building just about every assessment solution that Select International provides to organizations globally. Because of all of this, my personal needs of creativity and intellectual stimulation are fulfilled. I also get to see how the assessments are used by real organizations to improve their hiring processes and how they make a difference in the quality of their workforce.
  • Task Variety: One could argue that this bullet point is linked to the first, but I’ll discuss it separately nonetheless. Because of my role within the organization, I rarely do the same thing twice. My need for intellectual stimulation means that if I performed the same tasks over and over, I would get bored and dissatisfied with my job. In my position, I work across departments and work with a diverse group of people (e.g., sales, consulting, marketing, technology). Priorities change often and so do projects. It makes my job interesting and engaging. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt bored in my job.
  • Organizational Culture: I have made it clear that I think my job is pretty great. Better than my job are the people with whom I work. I work with highly dedicated, intelligent, motivated, and collaborative people. The culture at Select International is such that we are a team. A lot of companies tout teamwork, but we really do live it. We are all committed to the same goal and are working together to achieve it. And, we do it while having fun! Select International is a special place to work because the leaders support a work hard/play hard environment. There are regular company events, contests and games. I genuinely like my co-workers; when we get together, it feels like a family. If you’re lucky enough to find a place with a culture like my company's, stick around. You’ll be paid in laughs and smiles.
  • Empowerment: Empowerment is a business buzz word, but it matters. In my job, I am trusted to decide how to accomplish my work and manage my own time and priorities. As long as I am able to meet deadlines, I can shift my tasks around and work on a number of different projects at a time. I am not micro-managed, and my opinions and voice are heard. For many professionals, this trust is important and for me it is essential to my job satisfaction.
  • Work/Life Balance: When I started working at Select International, I was living in Pittsburgh, single and childless. Seventeen years later, I’m married with two children living in Lancaster, PA. Fortunately, I work for a company who was willing to accommodate my life changes. I work from home and travel to the corporate office a few times a year. I changed positions within the company to reduce travel and better fit my life. Work/Life balance is important, and I have a job where I am able to balance these to the best of my ability.

Notice that compensation was not on the list. The academic literature will tell you that the main reasons for turnover are usually not related to pay. Compensation can be a dissatisfier when it is far from someone’s expectations but generally it isn’t the main reason. The other aforementioned factors are often more important than pay. If you hit the jackpot and find a place where you get to work with great people who build you up and work on tasks that are interesting and engaging, you want to stay!

My philosophy - if you’re going to spend one-third of your life working, do something that you enjoy and spend time with people you like. I hope all of you are lucky enough to find a place you fit in as much as I have. Seventeen years and counting!

turnover reduction

Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. is the Director of Global Innovation at PSI and an expert in the design, development, and validation of psychological assessment tools. She runs an innovation lab that is responsible for establishing PSI’s assessment technology roadmap and strategy. An integral member of PSI since 2000, Amie has led the development of numerous global assessments, including personality, situational judgment, cognitive, and interactive work simulations.