Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The grass is always greener…

At my place of employment we have very low turnover. But it seems that each year one or two of our 120 employees decide they need to work someplace else.

Sometimes we are happy about their decision to leave. In those cases they have been clearly unhappy for a while, and usually unhappiness spreads. The departure will often forestall the spread of unhappiness.

But in some cases we are disappointed, and the departing employee is one we really hate to lose.

Last year our sales were not doing as well as we had forecast and we lost three experienced plant operators when our spring raise was not as high as they had hoped. We explained that we had plans in place to correct this, but due to some long term contracts that would expire at the end of 2006, we could not offer the full intended raise. We promised that by the end of the first quarter of 2007 we would completely correct the imbalance.

Those three didn't want to wait. Jobs for process plant operators are plentiful locally and they had no problem finding comparable jobs with the promise of more money within a few years.

One of the three, in particular, we really hated to lose. The other two were "high maintenance" employees who I was not unhappy to see out the gate.

Well, within six months the "hate-to-lose" guy called, said he'd made a mistake, and asked for his job back. He was reinstated almost immediately. Then, in March, we announced the promised big raise. And in early April, since we'd just met our first quarter profit target, we paid out a significant Profit Sharing distribution into everyone's 401(k) accounts.

Within a few weeks the other two guys called. They were ready to return as well. We have thus far put them off, saying we have no further openings at this point.

Today, one of the two kept a requested appointment with me and his former Production Department boss. He wanted to ask us face-to-face for his job back.

We reminded him that he had been openly unhappy with us for a year before he left, and that little had changed since then. What made him think that now all would be well?

He offered his reasons, but they seemed in the final analysis to revolve around money. Now that our pay was again competitive, things would be OK again.


I'll await a final decision until the Production Department group discusses the situation and tells me what they want to do.

But I'll be surprised if we don't just let him stay at his new job. It may grow on him, and be better for both us AND him in the long run. At this point I'm not sure that things are as bad there as they seem to him now.

That grass has a funny way of changing color based on one's position and situation. Maybe it'll "green up" some over there.


Peter said...

The grass is greener syndrome can be traced as the reason for such a lot of decisions John.

Karyn Lyndon said...

When people leave my company we don't say "goodbye"...we say "you'll be back" because it seems they ALL do come back. At our annual awards show we have a boomarang award for those returning associates. That's the reason I hate to hire people straight out of college. They don't know how good they have it till they work for a really crummy company.

kenju said...

I wold trust your judgment about that John. I suspect you can tell when someone's motives are pure.

Christina said...

yeah, I remember being really unhappy at a job, lining up another one, then agreeing to stay at the old job because they offered more money. great for a while, but the things I hated didn't get better, they got worse and pretty soon, the new salary wasn't enough. the second time I tried (and succeeded) to leave the job for another one, they offered me even more money. Fortunately I had learned my lesson the first time and said no thanks, it's not about the money. The grass is NOT always greener just because the salary is a little higher.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. You'll have to let us know how it turns out.

schnoodlepooh said...

Being in charge of HR in my company, I totally identify with the unhappy employee scenario. It seems like one or two people will act like poison around the entire company, gossiping and complaining and spreading their woes far and wide. It's especially difficult when they are complaining so loudly, but they do not look for "greener grass". They just stay and complain and complain. When confronted about the specifics of their complaints, they can't offer one suggestion to make things better. I wish they would leave...

Nankin said...

It's amazing how so called adults never see the writing on the wall. Yeah, money is green, but it doesn't always live up to the promise of happiness.

Like Karyn says, our company takes back a lot of people, but in our area it depends on who likes or doesn't like you regardless of the job you did.

robotjam said...

My friend told me a funny story, he handed in his notice where he worked and then on his leaving day he has an interview for a position in the same company he was leaving.

It got a bit embarrassing as he had a leaving party and everyone bought him a leaving present and then the next week he was still working there when they gave him the job !