What Do Employees Really Want? Why Do They Thrive or Leave?
By Michelle Hutchinson
My last three blog posts have focused on steps job seekers can take to find their next position. But what about employers? What can they do keep employees and minimize turnover? After all, if you’re a business owner or are in a supervisory position, you don’t want to lose good employees, especially after you’ve spent time and money training them. So what do your employees want?
1. Job fit
2. Quality of supervisors
3. Quality of colleagues
4. Stimulating, challenging work
5. Job pay and benefits
Were you surprised to see pay and benefits as the fifth most important factor? Did you expect it to be first? That shows you that humans are motivated by a lot more than money. Let’s see how each of these factors affects employee retention.
Job Fit: The human resources grapevine is rife with stories of people who had great credentials but ended up being a poor fit for a job or with people who took a job because it sounded great on the surface but then ended up hating the position.
According to Mr. Davis, you can minimize the risk of poor job fit by conducting a well-executed interview and spending a good deal of time with the candidates. The minimum period of time you should interview a non-exempt, clerical employee is 30 minutes. An interview with a professional employee should ideally last an hour but should not be less than 45 minutes. Not only do you need to ensure that potential new hires have the skills for the job, you need to ascertain what they’ve done with those skills. In other words, you need to assess the results they’ve achieved.
Quality of Supervisors: Leadership comes from the top. That means, as a supervisor, you must:
- Do your own job well.
- Trust and inspire your employees. If you schedule 8am department meetings on Mondays and Fridays just to make sure your employees are at their desks, you’re missing the boat on trust, and your employees will realize that.
- Express your appreciation for a job well done and avoid taking credit for work performed by your subordinates.
- Invest in the training and career development of your employees.
Mr. Davis drives home the oft-heard phrase, “People work for people, not organizations.”
Quality of Colleagues: In general, employees want to feel as if they are truly part of a team. That means it’s important for them to like the people they work with, be friends with several of them, and have a sense that their peers depend on them. If those conditions exist, employees are likely to come to work happy every day, perform their jobs reliably, and not think about going elsewhere. In contrast, the employee who is unhappy is going to thing about moving on. Therefore, as a supervisor and leader, it’s important that you take the time to promote personal relationships with and among members of your team. It’s not fluff.
Stimulating, Challenging Work: We’ve all heard, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Therefore, as a supervisor, it’s incumbent upon you to make sure that your employees have interesting projects. If they’re bored, they’re going to hate their jobs, and they’ll hate their commutes even more. They’ll wake up in the morning not looking forward to the day ahead. And what does that lead to? Employees who aren’t likely to stay in their current jobs, employees who will start looking for other opportunities.
Job Pay and Benefits: Every employer has to provide some level of compensation to its employees. Some companies choose to offer levels that are so high that they make it difficult for employees to leave. In other words, they put so-called golden handcuffs on their employees. But that can be very expensive and eat into a company’s bottom line. In most cases, it’s best for you and your organization to offer pay and benefits that are at or slightly above the median in your industry. But this isn’t the only factor to consider in the realm of compensation.
If employee A feels that co-worker B is doing less work, lower quality work, or less valued work but is getting the same or more pay than employee A, then employee A will be unhappy. According to Mr. Davis, a lack of perceived internal equity in pay will drive more turnover than being somewhat below the market in compensation. Therefore, it is critical that you and your company not only have a rational pay-for-performance measurement system, but that it is implemented well.
If you’re having trouble finding employees who are a good cultural fit for your company, mentoring them, making them feel appreciated, providing them with challenging and interesting projects, or compensating them appropriately, perhaps it’s time for you to invest in the services of a human resources management company or a business consultant. Employers, how do you help your employees thrive? Employees, what do you want from your employer? Click on ‘Leave a comment’ to respond.