Will your Employees Love It? Or Leave It?

love-it-or-list-itI am the super fan of all things HGTV – Property Brothers, House Hunters (omg – House Hunters International!!). I get to fulfill my desire to be a voyeur, wonder what it would be like to move to the coast of Spain, and pile disdain upon the aforementioned house-hunters who, in my estimation, make the wrong decision.

One of my faves is Love It or List It in which interior designer Hilary Farr and real estate agent David Visentin battle it out to see if the featured homeowners will stay in their current home (with lots and LOTS of design and renovation changes) or if they will take the plunge and move.

Predictably formulaic and more than likely ‘staged,’ it’s still an enjoyable show.  At the onset of each episode we meet the family who are facing a dilemma because they’ve either outgrown their house (often due to the addition of new family members) or they’ve neglected their house to the point of it needing major repairs/renovation to make it livable.  The battle lines are drawn because one (or some) of the family members has a great desire to abandon the abode and the other family member(s) is determined to stay in place.

While recently watching a few episodes it struck me that there are similarities to the employment experiences in our organizations.  Leaders and HR professionals must continually ask the question “will they love us or leave us?” because:

  • When something has changed in the employee’s life they may begin to explore leaving. This could be as early as week 1 of their tenure or after 10 years of internal career growth.  The addition of new family members may lead to the employee wanting flexible work, needing better employee benefit offerings, or simply desiring a change because some other aspect of their life has shifted.
  • When the original perceived value has declined the employee may believe it’s easier to start over.  For the homeowner this comes about when there’s a decline in property value due to economic conditions, property taxes rise, there are changes in the neighborhood or there is some other altered state brought about by external forces.  In our organizations this often arises when we over-promise (“You’ll get a promotion within 12 months! “We’ll absolutely pay for you to get your MBA!” “Of course you can work from home!  We encourage workflex arrangements!”) and fail to deliver.
  • When we, the employer, are not meeting their needs anymore they may start reviewing their options.   Just as Hilary (the decorator) does on the TV show we have the opportunity to tap into the human desire for shared memories, history and the perceived value of various intangibles. Quit often on the show the homeowners opt to stay where they are because they have happy memories, love their neighborhood or feel some other emotional tug that anchors them to their existing home.  But we can’t assume that this (or having a friend at work which is often cited as a reason employees remain and are engaged) is enough – employees are often wondering “what have you done for me lately?”
  • When the employee thinks something better exists out in the marketplace they may begin searching for other opportunities.  If employees feel underpaid, undervalued, or believe they are viewed with the same regard as a piece of office furniture they may start testing the waters.   Much like the homeowners on “LI or LI” they may have unrealistic expectations of what their ‘renovation budget” will buy, but once they’ve made that mental switch in their mind to begin looking we run the risk of losing them.

I’m not sure, over the run of the show, how many people have chosen to “Love It” versus how many have chosen to “List It.”

But I sure know how many people in my various organizations made the choice to “Leave It.”


this post has been pulled from the archives; it first ran over at the HRSchoolhouse

image courtesy of Hilary Farr Design


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