For The Buy-In or For The Booty?

We’re always hearing about our nation’s unemployment rate, and I recently saw a statistic that 65% of employed americans are unhappy in their current positions. It’s a scary time to be in the market for a new job but it’s also an uneasy time to be an employer.

Think about it, while you may have employees that appear to be happy, 2/3 of them are probably looking to leave you. They’re smiling and seemingly working hard, all while covertly applying and interviewing for new positions right under your nose. You think they’ve bought into your company philosophy, that they have your back, that they’ll go to war with you. You don’t even realize that a silent mutiny is going on!!! Your employees are ready to jump ship the first chance they get.

Mutiny, ships…this got me a’thinkin ’bout pirates. Yep…pirates. Most movies we’ve seen and stories we’ve heard portray pirates as loyal and trusted seaman, doing what’s necessary to further the goals of their capt’n and doing whatever it takes for their ship and crew to be successful. I used to think, “Wow, what employee buy-in!!” What are these C.E.O. pirates selling that has everyone lining up and willing to fall on a sword? I did a little reading and things really started to become clear to me.

Most pirates became such not because a particular captain was on the “Top 10 Captn’s to Work For” list, not because the benefits were good. They became pirates out of necessity. They were laid off from royal navies and their only skills were fighting and sailing. Many were homeless and some were facing jail time or execution, and joining a crew was the only way to keep from being incarcerated or killed. They worked hard, didn’t complain out loud and worked in deplorable conditions because they had to. It wasn’t their dream job, it was a job. They did whatever they needed to do to get as much booty as possible before moving on to the next ship where there may be more booty and better opportunities awaiting.

So employers, HR folk, managers, with the way the job market is today, we cannot afford to take for granted the fact that our employees are sticking around and hangin’ in there with us. A false sense of confidence and comfort can surely sink your fleet. When things are quiet and you’re not hearing any grumblings below deck is the exact moment that your Employee Relations game needs to be stepped up. We are all one conversation away from having to walk our own plank! So while your ship may not be their final destination, instead of relying on fear, uncertainty and necessity to keep them aboard, engaging employees and leveraging their strengths will at least help to create a mutually beneficial relationship for now so that there is no shortage of booty for anyone.

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