Employees Matter4 May, 2006 By: Ronelle Ingram imageSource
- to - grave job security went out the window with the corporate downsizing in
the 1980’s. It's a war out there—a war for talent, and the managers and
companies that win will become the most agile, productive competitors in the
It is no longer only about money. Traditionally, the reason an employee would
take and keep a job revolved around two key points: financial compensation and
opportunity for promotion. A recent study by MetLife Insurance shows employment
priorities have shifted. Companies hoping to attract and keep top talent will
need to reassess what they offer and how the offer is made.
"To retain top talent in today's competitive job market, employers need to do
more than loosen their purse strings," says Maria R. Morris, executive vice
president of institutional business for MetLife. "They must create a work
environment that reflects their employees' life-stage needs and values. As the
demand for experienced, knowledgeable workers intensifies, employers need to
understand what motivates and inspires the loyalty of today's high-performing
employees. In most cases, it's not the corner office or a large paycheck, but
rather, the opportunity to work for a company that fosters strong workplace
relationships and inspires a sense of balance and/or purpose."
WHAT WORKERS WANT
Balance. For young employees ages 21 to 30, there is a need
to balance one’s personal life and their working life. Too much work, no matter
how high the salary, creates an unacceptable imbalance. Balance is the most
important consideration when deciding to take an offer or stay with a company.
It was ranked the number one consideration by 57 percent of those in the survey,
followed by financial growth
Flexible working hours. Variable work schedules, 35 hour weeks, shared
jobs, part-time workers, four ten-hour days, split shifts, yearly sabbatical
leave, unpaid time off, and in-house child care are all signs of progressive
hiring practices. Being paid for 40 weekly hours of work can be a hindrance to
both worker and company. Sales people, especially telemarketers, can be much
more productive working fewer than eight hours each day. Salespeople rarely are
required to actually be present at work 40 hours each week.
Company purpose. The importance of working for a company with a good
mission or purpose is important. Just over half of all workers in the survey
rate this as a top consideration. For pre-retirees, ages 61 to 69, the
percentage increases to 66 percent.
Benefits. There is a strong correlation between job satisfaction and
benefits satisfaction. Employees who are satisfied with their current benefits
package report similar levels of satisfaction with their jobs. Statistically,
mid-level potential employees are more concerned with their future benefits
package than starting pay. Common minimal requirements are a company sponsored
health insurance package and paid yearly sick/vacation time totaling at least 15
days to start, increasing to 25 days with tenured employment.
Company size matters. Workers say a company's size is a primary reason
they choose it as an employer. The prevailing wisdom is that large companies
offer an employee a wider array of benefits but can stifle individuality.
Smaller companies appeal to more creative types and those with a more aggressive
personality. Different personality types will crave different business
Dress codes and free food.
Casual Fridays and monthly luncheons have been extended to semi-casual (company
provided) golf shirts, free coffee, soda and snacks. Employees can save
thousands of dollars yearly by eliminating dry-cleaning bills,
the need to purchase work clothes or caffeinated drinks.
The fun factor. Is it fun to work here? Do workers laugh and talk
together? Are office doors opened or closed? Are family pictures prominently
displayed on desks? Is the lunchroom brightly lit, clean and appealing? Many
potential workers believe the higher the quality of fun, camaraderie and
goodwill, the greater the quantity and quality of work.
Salary versus bonus. A yearly pay increase will act as a motivator for
less than two weeks. What is the role of compensation as a reward for working?
Depending on the employee and company policies, different pay structures will
act as motivation for different individuals. In some cases, the security minded,
worker-bee employee will do their job with little attention paid to their
compensation. Others need to be highly rewarded (or penalized) to maximize their
contribution to the overall success of the company. Make sure your pay structure
is appropriate to maximize your employee’s ability. Managers motivate; money is
Looking to the future. When an employee uses their current job as a
stepping-stone to future employment, both employer and employee are out to use
one another. Each is trying to get the most out of the working situation.
Neither is really committed to a long-term relationship. The "What’s in it for
me?" mentality influences every decision. In the early stages of the
relationship, both may gain from each other. But each must realize the goal is
to grow, prosper, and make the most of the current situation, ultimately to move
on. In today’s work environment there is no shame in being an upwardly mobile
worker. Each realizes that the workers loyalty, creativity and continued
employment can easily be bought by another company. Some employees are always on
the lookout for their next opportunity for advancement–bigger pay check, better
Company reputation. How is your company viewed in the marketplace? Many
people see themselves in terms of what they do (for a living) rather than who
they are. Much of their self-esteem is derived from their work environment
and/or position within the company. Their company’s reputation, community
involvement and overall prestige are very important to security minded
employees. Those who are looking for personal growth and future opportunities
also want to have their resume filled with companies of excellent reputations.
It is easier to move from a highly reputed company than to leave an obscure or
recently disgraced or indicted organization.
Intangibles. Call it spirit, soul or character, some companies just have
a feeling of vibrancy and good will. You can sense it the minute you walk in the
door, or hear it in the voice of the receptionist. It’s about pride, caring
about the customer, one’s fellow employees, and worthiness of purpose. It is the
difference between looking forward to Monday morning and dreading the black
cloud that follows the disenfranchised employee to work. Enjoying ones work
enables the employee to enjoy their life.
Open communication. If we don’t make a profit, none of the rest of this
really matters. Great companies talk openly about the need to ethically make
money, and their backbone is to be able to provide all the other perks of
employment. Those companies that openly share information with their employees
usually earn the respect and loyalty of those workers.
There is something more to keeping employees happy and engaged than any one of
these categories - it is the "big picture" that counts. Something for everyone.
Caring, mentoring, time off, camaraderie,compensation, training, good will,
reputation, and of course, the ability to genuinely smile while the employee is
earning the client’s return business. Employment is a two-way contract.
Employers and workers must each be aware of both sides of the equation.