Thursday, March 15, 2007

Marriage, Mortgage, Mercedes and Maternity: The 4 Ms that give bosses pause

Good companies always hope to retain their employees. They have various tools for retention. Many offer career advancement or financial incentives including generous salaries, vested 401(k) plans and retirement accounts. Others provide excellent benefit and bonus packages. There are a myriad of other tools employers use that keep people engaged and committed to their company.

As a former manager, I would work to have high employee retention. Nothing pleased me more than having a good employee who was settling down, getting married, buying a house and leasing a shiny new sportscar. Why? Because as people relied on the money and benefits they were receiving to maintain their standard of living, the more likely they were to work to retain their job.

With the average American living paycheck to paycheck, an employer has a real advantage. They are maintaining the employees' standards of living. What the employer says, goes. And if the employees aren't managing their career or trying to sock away a bit of money for a rainy day, they don't have a position of power to protect them from workplace problems.

Although I like conspicuous consumption just as much as the next guy, if you want to have some negotiation power with your current employer, give yourself a financial cushion. A great example of this is a recent friend who couldn't take the bullying and condescending remarks of his immediate supervisor, and resigned on the spot after a particularly nasty lambasting. The boss was flabbergasted--employees today don't just leave a job. If they did, how would they live. But if you have some financial independence, you don't have to take it anymore.

So work to give yourself some power as an employee. You'll be less stressed, be able to make sound career and financial decisions, and keep an eye on your long term career goals instead of just your next paycheck.

What about Maternity?--I'll leave that as a pregnant pause until my next post.

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