Halifax prof puts career in park (Editor’s notes)

You never know why an employee might leave a job
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/27/2011

So you’re going through your retention checklist: Competitive wages? Check. Benefits? Check. A great culture, work-life balance and pension? Check, check, check.

Just when you’re set to shelve the list and brag to the CEO about that low turnover rate, you get a phone call that one of your long-term employees just quit over… parking?

That’s what Dan Middlemiss did. Frustrated by a lack of parking at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, the expert in Canadian defence policy and political science professor who had been teaching for three decades handed in his resignation.

“It’s just silly, it’s been 30 years of frustration,” Middlemiss said in interviews. “It’s ridiculous, in my view, and the university just keeps pretending that it’s not the problem that it is.”

The university has about 2,000 parking spots available for 3,000 employees and 17,000 students. It doesn’t take a mathematician to spot the problem in that equation.

And Middlemiss is hardly alone in his frustration. He told the Toronto Star many of his colleagues are just as upset but they’re not in a position to quit.

An unscientific online poll on CBC’s website asked visitors if they would quit their jobs over a lack of parking. More than one-quarter (27.9 per cent) of the 895 respondents said they would, while 59.6 per cent wouldn’t and 12.5 per cent weren’t sure.

It’s easy to understand the professor’s frustration. Slogging your way through rush-hour traffic is painful enough. Finally making it to the workplace and pulling into the lot only to find out there’s no place to park — that’s the final straw.

Parking isn’t usually an HR issue. Middlemiss, while not alone in his grumbling over parking, is the only person I’ve ever heard of who quit over lack of parking. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, but it certainly doesn’t happen often.

It underscores the fact you never know why an employee might leave. It might be for better pay, better hours or a better location. Or it might be for parking.

What’s the ROI on employee turnover after building a parking garage?

Tell us your story

What’s the most unusual reason you’ve heard for an employee resigning? We’d like to know. Send your stories to todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com or join the conversation online. You can add your two cents on the editor’s blog post titled “Halifax academic puts his career in park.”

While you’re there, you can also peruse our other blogs on employment law, strategic HR, compensation and HR policies and practices.

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