What do employees really want from work?
What do employers need to know about job satisfaction to avoid losing top talent?
According to a Randstad Engagement Index study (released in August 2012) called Employers Beware: U.S. Workers Feeling Left Behind, 51% of employees plan to explore other job options when the job market picks up. The findings also reveal that the number-one tactic employers cited in the survey to keep workers engaged is “offering promotions or bonuses to high performing employees”.
But additional compensation may not buy more engagement or increased retention and job performance. Leadership-development consultant Kevin Eikenberry’s blog post Seven Ways to (Really) Engage People proposes equally powerful forces underlying worker engagement. Allow me to paraphrase and expand on Kevin’s list:
1. Meaning. Making a Difference. Understanding the company’s mission and vision, and buying into it because it is important work and meaningful for the employee.
2. Expectations. Job activities and behaviors expected and valued. Must be clear, fair, and reasonable to the employee. These expectations in action often reflect the real team/company culture. Arbitrary expectations or “shifting sands” can lead to uncertainty and resentment by employees, which is untenable in the long-term.
3. Targets. Clear Goals. Preferably goals with specifics and quantifiable measures of success. Employees want to know how they can achieve success on the job and grow in their careers.
4. Relationships. Connectedness. Working environment that facilitates true collaboration and teamwork. A company’s real values are exposed in the company culture. Culture fit is a critical component in worker engagement, productivity, and retention.
5. Input. Sharing ideas. Soliciting and recognizing ideas from employees demonstrates that they have the capacity to contribute a lot more than just repetitive, mind-numbing job duties. Recognition of ideas validates each employee’s uniqueness…and we all like to feel special!
6. Belief. Work with people who believe in us and want the best for us. Feeling the goodwill and support of colleagues, supervisors, and management enables workers to flourish in a positive working environment.
7. Freedom. Leeway to customize the details of job tasks to achieve stated goals. This freedom springs from trust. Have you selected, trained, and inspired your employees so you can place your trust in them? Or do you convey lack of trust via behaviors such as micromanagement?
The recently leaked, gone-viral “Shicklegate” resignation letter by a disengaged employee showcases some of the missing worker-engagement elements cited above. Can you pick out which ones? By my count, at least three (out of the seven listed) were severely compromised.
Does that justify the position Kieran took with his resignation letter? Whether you believe it was justified or not, the viral nature of this “tell-all” letter serves as a cautionary note to employees of what not to do when resigning.
Just as important, it signals to employers that more is required of management to truly engage and retain employees. Yes, compensation is important. But, in the final analysis, it’s not usually the real reason why workers leave - and sometimes - hurl potentially company-brand-damaging parting shots.