People Don’t Want To Work


My vehicle was at the service department for a minor manufacturer recall so I took the opportunity to ask the technician to look at a separate issue that I was concerned about. The separate issue was taken seriously and looked at. It turned out to be a larger issue than I was entertaining, and the technician took it on like a personal challenge. He asked if he could keep the vehicle another day or if I could bring it back in a week or two when he had more time.

I happily agreed to bring it back so I asked him “when would be good?”. This opened a conversation I was also not planning on entertaining but was glad to have with him.

The Technician answered, “Well, out of normally having 18 techs in the shop, we are down 6 right now with no relief in sight. No one wants to work these days”.

I acknowledged that it must be hard to be short staffed however I could not resist my next question: “You suggest that no one wants to work but I really appreciate that you took my extra concern seriously and was willing to dig in today. What has you working so diligently today?”.

He took off his ball cap, scratched his head and said “Hmmm, I guess I like what I do, the pay is decent, and the people are pretty good to me around here.” Was his answer. Putting his cap back on he added “and besides, I’ve been doing it for 19 years now… I’d hate to leave something I’ve worked this hard at unless something better came along”.

“So, then what had the other 6 leave?” I had to ask.

“I’m not sure about any of them to be honest but they seemed to just not fit in very well… but to be really honest, I didn’t have much time to get to know any of them.”

His answer stuck with me the rest of that night and inspired me to write about it in this blog post.

I am left wondering how, as leaders, we might connect more and earlier with people we bring into our organizations. I also wonder how, as leaders, we build warmer and more welcoming cultures people can belong to.

I’ve been ridiculously fortunate to have never left a job in my professional career. As a younger person entering the workforce however, I had tried several jobs that all ended with me feeling like I didn’t belong or didn’t want to belong to the team or organization, most often because of the leaders and/or the people and how they treated one another.

Most of the statistics, polls and surveys agree. Rarely do people leave their career field or expertise in work. Yes, people leave their work for better pay and other benefits occasionally. More often though People leave their leadership, teams or culture due to the quality of the relationships they have in those three areas. The statists also suggest that people are willing to not work. The technician working on my vehicle wasn’t wrong… people are choosing to not work temporarily if they cannot find the right fit. That’s the contemporary dynamic some might be labeling as “people don’t want to work”… but that’s an incomplete sentence. “Some people don’t want to work for you / your organization” is the more complete sentence and as leaders we must lean into this question to more deeply learn why and what we can do about that to make better fits for the talent our organizations need.

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