Feb 28, 2020

Take This Job And Love It!

Not As Many People Are Considering That an Option in California’s Capital

By Ed Goldman


ven in the go-go jobs economy of California, and in particular the prolifically hiring Sacramento, many employees are still what I call Glummy Bears.

That’s according to a recent study conducted by Robert Half, the worldwide staffing firm. It reports 63 percent of company executives it surveyed said that “worker turnover has increased in the past three years, with lost productivity (29 percent), new hire training (26 percent), and recruiting (25 percent) being the costliest aspects when employees leave.”

So it’s not just employees—just a few years ago, they whined about the scarcity of good jobs out there—experiencing a winter of discontent. CEOs are also being Glummy Bears, though in their case, I’d like to christen them Sad Suits. “I don’t get it,” they’d say if they were honest about it. “All of those years, we offered them lower pay than they could make across the street, didn’t provide continuing education, saw no need for fathers to get parental leave, kept women from advancing to our Olympian heights and washrooms, ignored their claims of sexual harassment and age discrimination (especially when some of our management team engaged in it), and now that we’re all ‘woke,’ thanks to some very scary litigation, they’re still unhappy?”

You betcha, fellas (as the majority of you still are). In the capital, for example—where government jobs may out-number private-sector ones but both have plenty of openings—“only 42 percent of Sacramento employees surveyed said they’re very engaged at work and love their job; 44 percent said they’re somewhat engaged but would like to feel more challenged or have greater professional development.”

In short, the job market may have roared back but the flock has other ideas.

Shantel Poole, photo courtesy of Robert Half

Whenever I get puzzled about this stuff, which is all the time—as I’ve shared here, I left my last real job in 1984, possibly because I was urged to and also vaguely recall a uniformed security guard helping me load my car—I contact Shantel Poole, Sacramento-area branch manager for Robert Half. She’s been there for many years and can be counted on to take pity on me when I try to unravel the tangled spaghetti of rules, regulations and acronyms that keep the personnel world one step ahead of us.

I asked her, for instance, why, according to her firm’s survey, employees in San Diego and Los Angeles remain so damn happy at their jobs, compared to Sacramento. Well, she said, “There are many factors that might influence workers in these cities to be more engaged. Aside from the great coastal environment, perhaps the work culture that companies have implemented in these cities and the types of jobs available play a big role.  

“The key here,” she continued, “is workers want to feel valued, challenged and supported with work/life balance.  I think these cities are doing a great job with their health and wellness offerings, and additional perks like remote work options or flexible hours.” In Sacramento, she said, the main focuses are health and wellness and work/life balance. However, “companies in Sacramento that offer a great culture, with flexibility and a healthy workplace, are (still) winning and attracting the best talent in the market.”

Poole was on a roll and I was glad to be in her path. “In order to boost employee engagement, managers should make it a priority to include their team in company updates and business goals,” she said. “Gather feedback from employees to find out what interests and motivates them. Also, encourage employees to take on new assignments and responsibilities so they feel valued and challenged professionally. 

“A big part of a worker’s happiness at work is the overall business environment and work culture,” she added, asking—somewhat rhetorically, since I’m my entire company—”How does your company support work/life balance?  Many employers offer flexible work schedules, remote work days, even health and wellness perks such as yoga classes and gym memberships. These additional offerings can make a huge impact on workers’ engagement levels to be more productive and perform better on the job.” 

Looking for a Great Gift?

Poole said that in Sacramento, specifically, she’s “hearing things like (companies) bringing in healthy snacks for the week, optional yoga classes or exercise breaks throughout the day, active teambuilding, and outdoor walks around the building or office.”

The trouble with those walks around the building, I think, is that they can lead an employee to a competitor’s doorstep. But at least that employee would get a breath of fresh air—literally and figuratively, becoming a Glummy Bear no more.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).