Following on from our previous post on Leadership we are turning the tables, looking at employees and the top things they desire from their employers. Whether you are an employee or an employer, read on, this is for you!
The employee / employer dynamic, like any other relationship, starts with a learning curve, you’re discovering each other’s nuances, working out expectations, understanding needs and wants.
Sometimes this can differ from what we both tell each other in the introductory stage (the interview), like a first date, to what reality actually looks like. Sound familiar? Think of the first time your partner leaves the bathroom door open. These early stages are both revealing and confronting. We learn about ourselves as a communicator, what it is that we are indeed looking for from the partnership and whether this is going to suit us long term.
It is a fusion that continually evolves and requires constant work, balance, give and take. If this is sounding more and more like a relationship guide, you would not be too far off.
Because like every relationship you need to continually ‘check in’ to ensure each other’s needs are being met. Otherwise we end up becoming frustrated, resentful and potentially leave when it gets too hard, or we feel that we are in a situation unable to be resolved.
Interestingly the themes represented as challenges in partnerships between employees and employers remain consistent. In a study dating back as early as 1946, and continues to be repeated in modern business is that done by Foreman Facts, looking at what employees want compared to what their employers think they need.
What they found and possibly not surprising, is a discrepancy between the two groups – or perhaps better described as a miscommunication.
Here is what employees say they want, starting with what’s most important to them:
1. Full appreciation for work done
2. Feeling “in” on things
3. Sympathetic help on personal problems
4. Job security
5. Good wages
6. Interesting work
7. Promotion/growth opportunities
8. Personal loyalty to workers
9. Good working conditions
10. Tactful discipline
Here’s what managers think employees want, starting with what they think is most important:
1. Good wages
2. Job security
3. Promotion/growth opportunities
4. Good working conditions
5. Interesting work
6. Personal loyalty to workers
7. Tactful discipline
8. Full appreciation for work done
9. Sympathetic help with personal problems
10. Feeling “in” on things
What does this tell us?
When we look at the top three requirements to have happy staff, the overarching theme appears that employees are looking for a manager that possess excellent people skills above all else, there’s a concept! More than this, they are looking for a compassionate leader. The results indicate ‘soft’ motivators, with staff looking for appreciation, inclusivity and empathy.
According to leadership development experts, Dr Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott, “higher levels of engagement come from employees who work for a compassionate leader – one who is authentic, present, has a sense of dignity, holds others accountable, leads with integrity and shows empathy.”
In our last post we talked about the reduction of the ‘command and controller’ days in leadership, migrating to a mode of information sharing across the business; being more fluid and less centralised with communication. This certainly seems aligned with what employees are seeking and perhaps are the driving force?
Encouragingly, the best companies are getting better around the globe, with the number of high-trust workplaces nearly doubling since 2011.
Why is it important?
Other than looking at gloomy faces each day, why is employee engagement so important? Every two to four years Gallup completes global research on this very topic. In its eighth meta-analysis across forty-nine industries in thirty-four countries, including nearly 1.4 million employees (yes, they are big numbers), ‘further confirmed the well-established connection between employee engagement and business performance outcomes’, including:
• high customer ratings
• high profitability; and
• increased productivity.
Still not convinced? Harvard Business Review researchers highlighted that that 71% of businesses rank employee engagement as a key factor most likely to influence them achieving their overall organisational success, with only excellent customer service and effective communication scoring more highly.
In addition to performance and productivity, employee engagement also impacts positively across levels of:
• levels of innovation
• customer service; and
• staff advocacy of their organisation
How do you implement?
So before you are put off, visualising group workshops with trust activities, involving falling back and catching one another, or another corporate high ropes course. We’ve dug deep and narrowed it down to a short and snappy three key things:
Firstly agree to make a start. Understand what is of value to your employees and make a company-wide commitment to deliver on it. Consider what do you want your organisational culture to be like? How do you want your employees to feel about the business and the philosophy that needs to be created to support it.
2. Be committed
Make it more than just a poster on the wall or words in your induction manual. Commit to it from the top down, how you act and behave will grossly impact the behaviour of your employees. Create the standard lead by example.
3. Measure – there’s an app for that!
Employers now focussing on the ‘Employer Experience’ are supported by a multitude of pulse feedback tools, wellness and fitness apps, and employee self-service technologies. Find what works best for your business. Dependant on your size and organisational structure there are many alternatives available to you.
As much as it may have been disguised in the past, or as modern technology appears to want to replace, humans are the central force in business. And whether we like it or not, that means when dealing with humans we must, well behaving like ones ourselves. Go on, just try it.