The Age of the Jobstacle

Posted by Thymometrics' co-founder, Hugh Tonks.

When HS2 (High-Speed Rail) was announced in the UK, I surely can’t have been the only person who thought the money could be better spent fixing the existing network, or reopening some of the village lines closed in the 1960s?

The same goes for massive roadbuilding projects. I might save as much as 30 minutes on an occasional long journey, but I’d much rather some local bottlenecks were fixed to save me and thousands of others a few minutes every day.

But it’s not just infrastructure that suffers from grandiose ideas. Companies do it too. Look at the small (if not large) fortune that can be spent on restructuring an organisation to gain performance efficiencies or bringing in a new appraisal and reward system. What if that money were spent on a different kind of performance enhancement?

Nothing happens in an organisation without people getting involved, so getting the best from the organisation means, at a minimum, getting the best from its people. It’s therefore fair to ask what stops people from giving their best. What stops you from giving your best? And the person at the next desk, do they have the same obstacles? What results would you get if you asked everybody?

What you’d get would be a huge range of answers, everything from minor environmental issues to major systemic policy or process deficiencies. What it’s important to realise is that for some of your people, these obstacles are going to be enough to make them jump ship – and that’s costly, disruptive, and anathema to organisational effectiveness.

The decision to resign is always a personal one, driven by personal motives, or caused by issues affecting that person. A grand plan to fix problems in the large is only going to be effective where individuals’ needs are, coincidentally, addressed. Naturally, if you can discover any common themes among your employees’ needs, their job obstacles, then a grand-ish plan is going to be useful, but only to help those whose needs are addressed. It follows that other needs will have to be addressed on a much smaller scale – lots of small pieces of work to bolster the working experience of individuals, maybe even just one at a time. 

Of course, all these small pieces of work cost money. Can the budget be justified? Let’s look at it this way. The costs of replacing somebody depends on various factors, including salary, seniority and scarcity of possible replacements, so it would be absurd to brandish a one-size-fits-all figure here. But HR professionals have a good feel for the total cost of replacing an employee, so they’re equipped to ask themselves whether the cost of carrying out a small piece of work to make an employee happy enough to not quit is worth it in comparison to the replacement cost. It’s the same value judgement that’s made when deciding on whether to take out insurance. Ultimately, it needs deciding on a case-by-case basis. The important point is that an informed decision can be made, whether the work is done or not.

So how can you acquire the information necessary to make informed decisions? The only people with that information are your employees, so ask them. And keep asking them. Engage with them, in the same way that you want them to engage with their work. Only through protracted interaction will you uncover all your organisation’s jobstacles. 

You could do worse than to check out the feedback system offered by Thymometrics, which provides an always-on anonymous listening platform and unrivalled analytics which tell you about employees’ relative priorities and needs in combination with their views on satisfaction and happiness. Why not turn their jobstacles into joy?


Learn about Thymometrics' range of employee feedback solutions to help overcome those jobstacles! Email us at or call +44 (0)1223 750 251. 

Photo by Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash.

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