I regularly hear from candidates who hate their jobs and are planning to leave (some I hear from like clockwork, annually). Only a few of them actually follow through. Their prevailing reasons are rooted in compensation. “A new comp plan was just rolled out at the annual sales meeting and it’s ridiculous” or “their earnings weren’t as promised, so they’re going to leave”…just as soon as their last bonus check comes in. Sound familiar?
Recent reports indicate that job dissatisfaction rates have climbed as high as 80%. Coupled with reports of a strengthening job market, you’d think that people would be leaving their jobs in droves, right? Not so.
Conditioning plays a large part in why people remain in jobs they hate. A famous scientific experiment on conditioning (the Skinner Experiment) studied the effects rewards had on two groups of rats. Each time a rat in Group 1 pressed a lever, they received food. The rats in Group 2 were also rewarded with food for pressing a lever, but at random intervals. Once the rats in both groups were conditioned to perform the “task” in order to receive the reward, the rewards were stopped. When the rewards ceased, the rats in Group 1 immediately quit pressing the lever. The rats in Group 2 however, continued to press the lever in hopes of receiving a reward.
This is why so many of the candidates that contact us stay in the jobs they claim to hate. They are conditioned. They stay in hopes of receiving a reward. The reward doesn’t even have to be that significant. It can simply be an “Atta-boy” from their boss or an “achievement “ certificate. These small rewards keep employees fired up just enough, to plug along in hopes of receiving another reward.
Complacency is another major factor. You may hate your current situation, but not enough to actually do something about it. After all, you know your current job and can do it without too much thought or effort. And, there’s always an element of risk involved in starting a new job.
So despite all of the reports that a crisis is looming as employees are poised to leave enmasse, Conditioning and Complacency will most likely have them showing up to work again on Monday.