We Still Lose People Because We Still Do Not Understand Them

So many wonderful, elaborate, well-written articles out there about why people still keep leaving their jobs.

I read them. I enjoy them. I learn from them.

Yet I feel we make it way more complex than it needs to be.

Mine will not be one of those very sophisticated articles.

In the simplest form:

If we don’t understand human beings and what gives them life, joy, and happiness in life we won’t succeed in keeping them at their jobs.

That’s it.

Systems, processes, and technology come later.

People are someone, not some thing.

The second piece of it is: Because we are beings, not things, we had a mindset shift on what work meant a long time ago with very good reasons (the second part of the article refers to those reasons). Pandemic just brought it more to daylight.


  • no longer look at work as a means to an end;
  • know every hour and every day matters; they cannot keep spending 8-10 hours a day on things that waste their time and energy, especially when they receive no appreciation;
  • do not want to wait for weekends and retirement to feel good;
  • want to spend more time with their loved ones;
  • are aware of all the problems in the world and want to be part of the solution thus want to work for companies that use business to do good;
  • want to be respected, feel they matter.

Nothing complicated.

If we do not care about people and our home that feeds us (planet) more than profit and still have not realized the mindset shift about what work means to them; the panic decisions we make or the band-aid complex solutions put out there are not going to work.

You can stop here, that is really the message.

If you are curious about why and how we got here you can continue:

The shift at work started happening when the security at jobs was lost beginning in1990s with massive layoffs.

  • People who opted-in to work for money so that money can buy what brings them happiness (a means to an end), at least felt secure they will get paid on a regular basis.
  • When you get laid off or some others get laid off around you, when you lose the security and the loyalty shown to you, you still need to take care of yourself and your loved ones, so you lose your loyalty to the company too.
  • All of a sudden risk of leaving a job or starting your own business does not seem riskier than staying at the job; you may be laid off any minute even if you did nothing wrong.

The generations watching these changes unfold do not feel they owe any loyalty to their employers either since they saw what their parents sacrificed after doing everything right including working long hours and missing quality time with them.“I am not going to do this” they decided.

  • They want the flexibility to have a life now not delayed to weekends or retirement. They will not miss the precious time they have with their children or doing what they love.
  • Science also advanced and saw that people are not only motivated by more money or beautiful offices and free coffee. The biggest motivation has to come from inside. They do not only want to make money but want to do things that matter to them. They realize they spend a lot of their time at work and work has to mean something bigger than a paycheck.
  • People are also looking at what is happening around the world in real-time; climate change, inequality, war, pandemics, and the need for collaboration throughout the world to solve these big problems. They know they cannot solve it on their own and they are thinking of the next generations as much as their own. They want businesses to be part of the solution.

When we ignore all of the above, we will continue to be surprised why we cannot find the right people and why we lose so many of them. People are awakened and willing to sacrifice big homes, cars, credit scores, and a lot more to live a life that matters with purpose and but not sacrifice their souls.


Brooke O. Erol
Brooke O. Erol
Brooke O. Erol started her career at IBM following the traditional path she was given to be "successful". She quit her "great job" on paper after 11 years, feeling she is not aligned with it. She started her journey to find her purpose in life. She started her first business in 2003; Your Best Life to help professionals who don’t like their jobs and want to find more meaning at work. After being around so many unhappy people at work as her clients, she decided to help the organizations and leaders who employed them. She started her second business; Purposeful Business to help leaders catch up with our times and grow their businesses without sacrificing the well-being of their people; where profit becomes a by-product rather than the main goal. She believes life is too precious to live only for weekends and retirement. She is the author of Create a Life You Love. She is also the co-author of "From Hierarchy to High Performance: Unleashing the Hidden Superpowers of Ordinary People to Realize Extraordinary Results" that became an International Best Seller in 2018. She speaks and writes about Leadership, Purpose-Driven Life and Organizations, Future of Work in the US, and abroad.

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  1. Great article and shareable content.
    One of the great challenges that every company is called to respond to today is certainly that of trying to understand what workers are looking for in the company. Managing a team does not only mean giving orders, but above all knowing the employees on a personal level. Therefore, making a personal commitment to get to know well those who work in own company; take an interest in their personal and professional life, their personality, their families and their hobbies, all that contribute to forming their “idea of work”.

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