Why the "If You Don’t Like it, Leave" Attitude Doesn’t Work

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Many people who have been out in the workplace for more than a job or two have probably, at some point, encountered the “If you don’t like it, leave” attitude. This is often a remark made by someone in management, after hearing of a complaint or series of complaints from his staff. Some managers may use it regarding the situation at hand but with others it is a philosophy. As a philosophy, it is seriously flawed. In fact, it quite simply doesn’t work.

The phrase sure might seem like a snappy comeback but snappy comebacks aren’t what fix problems and streamline processes or operations. Snappy comebacks don’t improve upon anything but maybe a standup comedy routine. Most complaints by employees have merit. To immediately dismiss them without any regard, has a number of negative implications. Many of which will have serious repercussions on the company or business.

One of the most serious repercussions is low employee retention. Some managers might think that it is just as well if an unhappy employee leaves. In some cases, it may actually be a good thing. However, in many cases it is not. A high turnover rate serves nobody in the company well. Especially when you consider who may actually be leaving. Much of the time it is the better employees who are leaving and the worse ones staying. That is obviously not something a company should be striving to achieve.

Think about it. The most talented and qualified individuals probably have more options than the others. If their concerns aren’t addressed, they may be more inclined to pursue those other options. One of those other options may be seeking employment elsewhere. If they are brighter and more articulate than the other employees, they will probably do better in an interview for another company. So, they’d be more likely to land employment elsewhere. Maybe even your competition!

An employee with more qualifications will be more likely to look for a higher paying job for another company, if salaries are among the issues. If the better, more qualified employees are compensated no better than the other employees, that’s just one less incentive for them to stay. If that concern is brought to management and management responds with “If you don’t like it, leave”, that might just be the push they need to actually give thought to leaving.

Issues other than monetary compensation may be: working conditions, safety, company policies, fairness issues and respect. Any of those concerns could be an item of consideration when giving thought to trying to retain employees. Telling people to leave if they don’t like it is not really addressing any particular problem of any kind. In fact, it will probably make matters worse and create even more problems.

Now consider what you have left behind, after the better quality workers leave. The workers remaining are the people with fewer options. After all, if they had other options they would have left, since they don’t like things any more than the people who have left already. It’s just that, for now, their skills and qualifications are limited. As a result, so are their options. Yet, many of these people are still angry. So the only thing that has changed now is that the better quality workers have left. You still have unhappy employees but they are all of the ones with less potential.

Future advancement is another point to think about. Who is left to promote to higher positions? Only the employees with little potential remain with your company. So you may then be forced to promote someone to a position that you think may not be the best person for the position. It’s just that he is the only person who remains that you’d choose over the others. How does that better serve the company?

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