Greater job satisfaction

We trained this employee for five years,” says Nena, a female finance head of a retail group. “He is paid well, with commissions. But he goes to our competitor. Walang utang na loob talaga (debt of gratitude)!”

“There’s something about these millennials. They want a lot of perks, yet they don’t stay.”


“You appear to be a millennial yourself,” I remark. “What do you think?”

“I am 30,” she says. “I get it that young people want to be happy with their work. But in our business, we treat our employees very well. But I don’t understand the younger ones. I have wasted so much time interviewing people. We tried them out, but turnover is high.


“Perks, leaves, compensation—we have tried them all. What else do employees want?”

I ask her a direct question: “What makes you stay in your job, Nena?”

“Finance is my forte. I love math … [There are the] daily hassles, but on the whole, I love what I am doing.”

“What makes you love your job?”

“I feel that I am contributing to the company, for sound financial management is important. I am going to take graduate seminars, so I can think of better ways to do things. My parents ran things in a traditional way, but when I came on board, I had plans to innovate for the company to grow.”

“Bingo!” I say. “Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Have you started changing your culture to make room for growth? Or do your workers perceive that everything is dictated to them, that they have no power to change anything?”

“No improvements yet, because I had to persuade my parents to let me try,” says Nena.


“You are excited to help your business grow, because you are now empowered by your parents,” I say. “But are your employees empowered?”

“We are old style. My parents used to make all the decisions, now I contribute. Our employees follow us.”

“No wonder your employees don’t stay long! Millennials—and even older Gen Y and Gen X—would prefer to work for a company where they can see growth, for themselves and for the company.”

I tell Nena about psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University, who pioneered the idea of growth versus fixed mind-set in schools.

“Students with a growth mind-set are not as worried about [failing], and so they take on more challenges, persist longer and are more resilient in the face of setbacks,” says Dweck in Scientific American Mind. “Those with a ‘fixed mind-set’ tend to see challenges as risky and effort and setbacks as signs of limited talent.”

Dweck also asked hundreds of employees in Fortune 1000 companies: “Did their company believe in fixed talent, or did it instead believe in the development of employees’ abilities?”

“The people who worked for growth mind-set businesses said they felt far more empowered by their company and committed to it,” says Dweck. “They said that their organization valued innovation and creativity—much more so than those who worked for fixed mind-set companies—and that it would support them if they took a reasonable risk that did not work out. In contrast, those in fixed mind-set companies reported that fellow employees engage in more devious practices—keeping secrets, hoarding information—all designed to make them look like winners…”

“If you don’t see potential in your employees, and they know it,” I tell Nena, “then no amount of perks will make them stay.”

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TAGS: All in the Family, job satisfaction, millennials, perks, queena n. lee-chua
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