Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What do Employees Really Want?

In a newly published research report by WorldAtWork, Dow Scott (Loyola University Chicago) and Tom McMullen and Mark Royal (both Hay Group), the authors pointed out that the five top concerns in reward fairness are these:

  • Career development opportunities
  • Merit increases
  • Base pay amounts
  • Non-financial recognition
  • Employee development/training
I don't mean to denigrate the authors, because frankly, this report is well thought out and well done, but duh! 

People don't want to be rewarded for what their managers think is their potential. And, they certainly don't want to be locked into, say, a Tier 5 job (assume larger number is better) because they are too valuable in that role when they are capable of handling a Tier 8 role.

My anecdotal evidence suggests that far too many managers don't get this. Further, my anecdotal evidence suggests that most of those managers do not care if they get it or not. People don't become managers, for the most part, in today's world because they have any managerial aptitude. They become managers because les levres se recontrent le derriere. If you can't work that out, levres are lips and recontrez is a verb meaning to meet. I'll leave the rest to you.

Let's consider those items one at a time and see where they have gone recently.

  • Career development opportunities. Many companies have hit promotional gridlock. As the massive generation of baby boomers has reached levels that are all too cluttered, there is currently frighteningly little room for anyone to move up. So, the way to promotion is through finding a new employer.
  • Merit increases. Is this an obsolete term? So many companies have had near zero merit budgets for so long that I fear that this term may disappear from the lexicon.
  • Base pay amounts. They are not what they used to be. Again, companies have learned that if they put a bigger percentage of compensation into incentive pay and less into base pay that employees do not get the positive effects of compounding for having multiple good years in a row. In many cases (some that I have observed first-hand), it means that new hires (whether entry-level or mid-career) are paid for more in base pay than their peer group who has been around for a while.
  • Non-financial recognition. Say what? Today's managers don't seem to understand the value of an attaboy or even a thank you. Saying that a job was well done takes far too much time, apparently. 
  • Employee development/training. Twenty-five years ago, companies spent large amounts of money developing their employees. They had budgets that included travel. They believed in the value of face-to-face interaction. I understand that e-learning and interactive learning save immediate dollars, but how do you replace the increase in value that comes from the best training and development opportunities? Answer: you don't!
You know what, I stand corrected. I shouldn't have even suggested denigration of the authors. They make some great points. And, it seems that what to me was 'duh' would actually be an awakening for a whole bunch of employers.

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