Money Alone Won’t Make Great Employees Stay

What’s the real reason people leave?


A frank discussion about money as a motivator and a “dissatisfier,” from leading human resources consultant, Julie Bauke. While fair compensation is one component of valuing your employees, salary alone will not make a person stay if he/she feels disrespected, disengaged or dissatisfied.

Julie also discusses the key factors that determine whether a person is happy at his/her job or looking to leave. If you’re leading people, learn how to look for signs to help you understand both why they stay, and why they leave.

Money is very often a dis-satisfier. In other words, if I know I'm being paid less than market or less than my peers are who are doing the same work and sometimes less than I'm doing, it can be a dis-satisfier that can help propel me out the door. But money is generally not a motivator or a satisfier. And there have been a lot of studies done on this. People need to feel like they are being paid to market, in other words, what they could make going elsewhere, and that they are paid fairly within the department or among their peers.

When it gets to the point that you're throwing money at someone to stay it isn't going to keep them, generally. And if it gets to the point where someone comes to you and says, "Hey, look I've got another offer and they are offering me 10% more than I'm making here and I know I'm underpaid." And you come back and say, "We'll offer you 12% more." Generally the train has left the station at that point. And they are looking to leave for reasons other than money and, generally, when people accept a counteroffer to stay, I read a statistic one time that said something in the low-90% of people are actually gone within 12 months.

So money can make you leave but more money thrown at you generally is not going to make you stay. There are so many different factors that go into whether somebody is happy at their job. It might be things like flexibility, freedom, time off, opportunity to work on exciting projects, opportunity to work from home once a week, a better relationship with my coworkers, frankly, more open communication with my boss. Those are the kind of things that cause people to leave. It's been said that people leave bosses not companies. And so if you're leading people you really need to understand if your people stay, why they stay and if they'd leave, why they'd leave. The signs are there. The people will tell you, but sometimes we get so busy that we aren't paying attention because we're so busy trying to put fires out.

So you have to slow down and engage and listen. In my experience in senior human resources roles, I found that a lot of times leaders of organizations think their people don't know what the market rate is for what they do. They think that we'll just pay them what we pay them. We're going to go ahead and underpay them, but that's okay because they don't know. They certainly do, especially with technology so much a part of our lives now. Back when I was in HR you couldn't find it as easily. Now you can. So your people actually know what market is. If you're below market, sometimes they choose to stay because there are other factors in the job that make them happy but they know. Never make the mistake of thinking that your underpaying them is going unnoticed. It may come back and bite you. So play it fair.

Julie Bauke

Julie Bauke is The Chief Career Happiness Officer of The Bauke Group. She is as serious about your Career Happiness as she is her own — and she is deadly serious about hers.

She started The Bauke Group after a lifetime of bel...

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