It was a good job, the kind that turns into a career. The benefits were affordable, vacation accumulated quickly and, for a non-profit, the pay was manageable and raises were frequent. My supervisor was engaging and kind; he listened and offered advice. My co-workers were friendly and overall, there appeared to be a high level of employee satisfaction throughout the agency. The job seemed perfect, one I could enjoy and stay at for years to come.
After being there a few months, I learned my position had the lowest retention rate in the company. No one had kept the job more than five years since its inception. Most lasted three years or less. I wasn’t going to let it phase me. This was going to be my career. I was surrounded by people who’d been there ten and 15 years. My boss was great. I wasn’t micro-managed and I had flexibility and freedom.
Yet a year into the job, I found myself extremely frustrated. The job itself was tough. I worked with a complicated and self-sabotaging population. There were things with this population that differed from those my company typically dealt with. My clients needed to be handled differently, yet my company was reluctant to make any changes that would allow it.
Although this was discouraging, I continued. I did my job and I did it well. My productivity exceeded those of my cohorts and I was in the top five percent at the agency. I thought as time went by, management would begin to listen.
After 18 months, I knew my employee satisfaction was dropping. I broached my boss about burn out. I felt overwhelmed. Due to the nature of my clients, and the company’s refusal to meet the needs I attempted to address, my work-life balance shifted and my stress levels increased. Again, I talked about the need to modify the company’s policies. I detailed the reasons and how it could increase employee satisfaction and their ROI. I explained how the position never kept employees when every other department had people who’d been there for decades. Although they “understood” my position, I was informed things would not change.
Time continued to pass. Shortly after my second year, I hit the proverbial wall. My employee satisfaction was at an all-time low. I was burnt out and my stress levels were higher than ever. In a two month period, I trained three new people because not one stayed. My caseload nearly doubled in size. I went on blood pressure medication and started an anti-depressant.
At the two and a half year mark, it got to the point I’d hope to be sick in the morning, just so I wouldn’t have to go in. I’d find excuses to call off and take my vacation as soon as it was earned. I’d spend my commute crying, dreading the day ahead. If people asked about work, I’d no longer say things were fine. Instead I’d complain, expressing my discontent without regard.
I started talking to my boss about looking for a new job. He encouraged me to leave work at work and stop taking it home. I tried to explain that wasn’t working any longer. My lack of employee satisfaction was making me hate my life.
Two weeks later I got a bonus check.
I tried once more to make a plea to administration. I explained the way the company mandated my position was no longer able to give people the help they needed. Instead, I was wasting the company’s money and my time. Forty hours a week, I ran around, busting my butt, dealing with what society sees as the lowest of people for absolutely no reason. No progress was being made. There was no longer any aspect of my job that made me feel accomplished or I found joy in.
Again, they ignored me. I’d had enough. At the beginning of that summer, I turned in a two month notice for my resignation, which would occur just shy of my three year anniversary.
I was called into my boss’s office. The department head wanted to meet with me. They all asked the same question; what could they do to convince me to stay? I explained it one final time. It was not the company. I loved the agency. I appreciated all they offered, from the company’s culture to their family friendly principles. Yet, they refused to take into consideration what I had to say about the position’s lack of employee satisfaction. They weren’t able to see the way they did things was becoming outdated, especially for my population.
I left the agency on good terms. They told me I would always have a place if I wanted to come back. Not one day has gone by that I’ve regretted my decision. No longer suffering from a lack of employee satisfaction, I feel good again. I’m nicer. I’m calm. My patience has returned. My stress levels have dropped and I’ve become a better wife, mother and friend. Finally, I’m satisfied.
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