It is normal for companies to look for good employees. Currently, some organizations are not just looking — they’re desperate. For some, the acquisition and retention of skilled employees has become a matter of survival.
To make matters more interesting, an increasing number of experienced dot-com employees are now wealthy. How do you attract, keep and motivate millionaires?
When you become an “employer of choice,” people choose to work at your organization despite their alternatives (including working for other organizations, starting their own companies or early retirement).
You can’t be all things to all employees. Some just want to come to work and go home. Others want to be more involved, professional and entrepreneurial. The practices that motivate one employee may cause another to quit. Part of the challenge is to identify the qualities you want in your “ideal” employees, then structure your management practices around those criteria.
The following factors have consistently been statistically significant in explaining and predicting the ability of organizations to acquire and retain employees. When these factors are high, organizations are more successful in keeping better employees, attracting outstanding applicants and are inherently stronger as well.
Of all the factors that make a difference, the chance for increased opportunity seems to consistently have the greatest and most pervasive impact on behavior. “Opportunity” is not identical across people and organizations. The younger people are, the more they are motivated by opportunities for increased money and promotions. The older (or more experienced) they are, the more likely they are motivated by the opportunity to work on projects and challenges that they find interesting, important or will enhance their reputation. Some of the most negative aspects of jobs for entrepreneurial employees include boredom, inappropriate rules and procedures, dead end jobs and small-minded or jealous managers.
Employees are more committed when they personally identify with the organization. Think of commitment as the opposite of alienation. Employees are more committed when they agree with the ethics, goals and morals of their organization; have a personal involve-ment (investment) in the organization; and are proud of the reputation of the company. Extremely capable people will stay with organizations that provide only modest income and less-than-ideal working conditions. Why? Because the humanitarian mission and goals of the organization are consistent with and important to those employees. Money and working conditions are secondary concerns. Similarly, the best employees are often the first to leave organizations that mistreat people (e.g. other employees, customers and the public as a whole via environmental misconduct).
We spend a significant proportion of our lives at work. Successful organizations motivate people to accept each other and to work as teams to achieve common goals. Cohesive teams are characterized by supportive behaviors rather than conflict. These organiza-tions encourage employees to build personal relationships. Make sure that recognition and reward practices do not sabotage these relationships by rewarding only individuals. Employees who have coworkers they respect and enjoy seem to have lower absenteeism and are less likely to spontaneously quit due to a single, negative event. Showing prospective new-hires evidence of a good work environment will also increase the chance of their acceptance of the position.
It should be no surprise that people want to be treated fairly. Key areas that demand fairness are workload, promotions, pay, rewards and recognition. Many organizations feel that the more they pay employees, the more they will stay. This is simplistic. Research data suggest that once people’s basic needs are met, the feeling that they are paid fairly is much greater in explaining their reactions to the workplace than any simple effect for the amount they are paid.
It is common knowledge that recognition programs are important. Across a number of studies we found few positive consequences for recognition. We researched the issue further and discovered a difference.
Employees don’t want “recognition.” They want management to understand the contribution they make and to thank them in a meaningful way. Our results indicate that a genuine “thank you” from a manager can be significantly more effective than many, expensive, institutionalized recognition programs. Do not interpret this as our recommendation that you scrap your recognition program. However, the perception of the program is more important than the program itself. If employees see it as a genuine, honest gesture by management, it is probably effective. If it is seen as a hollow, mechanical process, it may not be producing the results that you intend.
For many people, not learning amounts to boredom. Managers and employees are justifiably proud of new knowledge and skills. Learning can involve importing information from outside the organization (thus representing “new technology” to the organization) or learning can be the acquisition of “known” information by employees (e.g. cross-training or new-hire training).
While both are important, learning by new-hires represents a smaller risk to the organization and those acquiring the knowledge. When new information is brought in, often as not, that new information is ignored by the organization. There are numerous examples of conservative organizations sending managers or employees to progressive seminars. When these people return, they experience retaliation for sharing new ideas that challenge the status quo.
Employees should have enough authority to do their jobs easily and efficiently. This not only makes the organization more efficient, it is one way an organization says, “I trust you.” Obviously, an organization of only “managers” would sacrifice efficiency. On the other hand, employees who can’t make the decisions they need to make in the normal course of their jobs are equally inefficient.
People who are involved with their jobs are proud of what they do and have a personal sense of ownership and responsibility for the quality of their work. This is similar to commitment. However, commitment is identification with the organization. Involvement is identification with one’s job. A software engineer may be extremely proud of her work, but not committed to the organization. Involvement includes a sense of personal accountability for one’s work. One characteristic of people who are seen as “professional,” is higher involvement. This can be just as true for someone in the maintenance department as the surgical department. Most organizations need to be more concerned with how their policies, procedures and management styles reduce involvement rather than how involvement can be inspired in employees.
Most people want a reasonable balance between work and personal life. Increasingly, organizations are attempting to become more sensitive to the personal or family needs of employees. A short-term imbalance is typically not a problem. The extent to which employees see this imbalance as a way of life, the more they will seek other employment. Some companies try to offset long working hours with lures of stock options and the promise of future wealth…with varying degrees of success.
X. Job Security
“Job security” does not mean “no changes.” On the other hand, employees are attracted to and will stay with organizations where they feel they will have a job if they do good work. Employees with job security are also more willing to be innovative and take risks for the organization. A lack of job security decreases satisfaction, commitment and involvement.
Report supplied by Bavendam Research