News & Articles

Published on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Retaining and Engaging Employees with Jobs, Not Careers

A recent survey by CareerBuilder revealed that 55% of workers feel they have just a job, not a career, and 38% of these workers are likely to change jobs in 2017. The survey also uncovered that 28% of survey respondents actually hate their job and only stick around in order to pay the bills.  Is this the type of employee that you want working for you?  Of course not.  But all organizations have these lower level jobs.  So how can employers engage these employees?

Studies from the Families and Work Institute (FWI) reveal several key factors to retaining this group of workers and helping them be more productive and engaged on the job.


According to FWI, the most important differentiator of low-wage employees is education. These workers tend to have much less education on average than other employees.  These employees are often least likely to be offered formal training or education programs for job skills improvement as a benefit on the job.

To reduce turn-over in these lower level positions, offer continuing education or certification programs that will allow them to improve their skills.

Create an Effective Workplace

Creating effective workplaces – workplaces that empower and support employees – has a significant positive impact on lower level employees; some say more so than higher level employees.  An Effective Workplace:

Empowers employees with:

·       More job autonomy

·       More involvement in management decision making

·       A more flexible workplace

Supports employees with:

·       More learning opportunities on the job

·       Employer-provided education/training programs to enhance job skills

·       More supervisor support for job success

·       More co-worker team support for job success

·       More trust in managers

·       More fringe benefits

·       More supervisor support to manage work, personal, and family life

·       More co-worker support to manage work, personal, and family life

·       A work-life culture that is more supportive of personal and family life

Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

Not all jobs lend themselves to a flexible work environment, but many do.  Failure to provide opportunities for flexibility at work can be a major cause of disengagement and turnover among low-income employees who typically lack the backup systems that are available to members of the middle and upper-middle class.  Some ways to provide flexibility at work include:

·       Traditional flextime (may choose starting and quitting times within some range of hours periodically)

·       Daily flextime (may choose starting and quitting times daily)

·       Allowing time off during the workday for personal or family matters

·       Providing some amount of paid time off for personal illness

·       Allowing to work all or some regular paid hours at home

Again, these are not possible in all positions, but take a good look and see where you can provide flexibility while not affecting productivity.

Employee benefits to providing a flexible workplace include:

·       Greater job satisfaction

·       Stronger job commitment/engagement

·       Better work/life balance

·       Higher retention

·       Greater life satisfaction

·       Better mental health


People are any employers’ greatest asset – from the top all the way down to the bottom.  Creating an effective workplace at all levels will increase productivity, profit, and employee well-being and engagement.



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