IT Employment

Do family values = more productivity?


If a company offers an onsite daycare facility, does it increase expenses or productivity?

What if an organization provides paid sick day benefits? Is it just a nice benefit for the employees or will there be a payback for the organization as well?

The answers are clear now. And they're going to be even more clear in the coming years.

Some of you who read this blog know that I believe America's companies are full of people who are bored, underemployed, and always on the lookout for their next job. Partially as a consequence, turnover is very high in many industries. The outlook for improvement in employee retention isn't positive as more employees seek to shield themselves from becoming the next person affected by the expense-based decisions of managers above them.

In today's marketplace, for businesses operating in the western countries within the IT sector, it's often the case that the ones who have the best talent generally are the ones with the best growth, highest returns on shareholder investment, and greatest overall success in attaining stated goals. At BusinessSuccessCoach.net, I see a lot of money spent by companies as they attempt to attract good talent. Headhunters often make between 20 and 50% of the new employee's salary, advertisements are run, contacts developed, and expense paid trips provided for new prospects (including their family often) to check out the new location. At the time, such decisions are usually justified by the hiring manager with comments about how the newbie will pay for herself or himself soon after coming onboard. And many do.

However, many don't.

When I'm with a client who is not performing at the hoped-for levels, we talk about what's going on in their life outside of work as well as on the job. I do this because I am convinced that nobody can perform at their highest level if they're worried about family or financial issues all day long. And, for many managers, the issues which I hear a lot about are those surrounding things such as day care, sick leave, paid vacations, commuting time, etc. These issues are often even more important than the great job they have or the better-than-average compensation they're paid.

Based on what they tell me, it's clear that:

1. People leave their employers because of these issues. This trend is increasing.

2. Even if they stay, their performance is reduced because of the stress they cause.

Great HR executives understood how to make the case to senior management that it's simply good business to deal with these issues sooner than later. They know this will free up the company's team to focus on doing what they were hired for in the first place. The best HR executives do make their case using ROI analyses which show the impact of turnover and the associated costs needed when replaceming strong employees. They use objective reports to help senior execs understand that all things do not need to be equal.

This is due, at least partially, to the fact that it usually makes good business sense to allow people to have different working hours/habits/time in the office as it's for their personal lives because of the improvement in productivity. And then, as a result of the education the senior execs then have, they start making decisions which are more enlightened. The execs take action to not only attract, but also retain, the best workers they can find. And, most of the time, their financial results soar as a consequence.

For those firms based in the western world today, a long term strategy cannot last if it's built on being faster or cheaper than those in Asia or South America. Talent is the key. That requires vision. And some guts. But the payoff won't take long to become visible.

john

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

14 comments
patclem
patclem

Folks, a lot of this is the regular old recruiting / retention 101. Except the last paragraph - the "oh my gosh he's right!" From an American perspective, we are in a global economy, and a global workforce. To be ignorant of the fact is disaster. Better schools, better education for young people, and American pride. Otherwise we'll become #2 or even lower. The old environmentalist chant applies - Think Globally, Act Locally.

JosB
JosB

I've worked in a large IT company and to be honest, while easily outperforming my co-workers everywhere, I still felt like a number there. Sure, the moment you mention you are going to leave the sky is the limit, but only if you are good. Meaning they undervalued and underpaid you up to that point. Or they just don't care. Hearing the stories of others that worked for similar companies, it's the same things there. Good to get a career started, but make sure to leave for companies that take better care of their employees. I also see this with companies in my current working field, financial business. Some companies with well known names can easily get new recruits, others struggle more. It's those companies where family benefits and the like could make the difference. For example, my former IT employer would have cared nothing about the problems my ex-fiancee had, my current supported me as much as possible when dealing with the situation. Enabling me to do whatever I could do, but without having me to worry when I had to leave the office for several hours because my fiancee needed help. Sure, I could not schedule certain long meetings and could get a phonecall and had to leave in a meeting, but people knew and understood this. Instead of taking days off to support my fiancee, I'd work the day knowing I could get to her as soon as it was needed. This is something that's not only on my department, but in most of the company. I know from several people that had sick partners or children and had excellent support from their management in dealing with the situation. The main difference for me would be that when someone asked me on my job at my former employer, i'd say something like "I have nice people I work with, there are some nice challenges and pays well, but that's about it". And about my current employer I'd say "I can earn a lot more (about double or even more) in other companies, however, I want to be part of the company I currently work for. I'd even recommend others working for them". For a company that does not offer great intellectual challenges or very good career oppertunities, I'd say this is the best response they can get.

Eii
Eii

I respectfully ask for the facts that back up points made in this blog. First, what type of careers are you basing your points on? IT and Software/Networking career satisfaction appears to be more constrained and stressed by the long-term and growing trend to work employees long and hard and then replace them with taxpayer subsidized recent college grads. US policy recommendations are pressing for this pipeline of employees to come almost exclusively from young, recent college grads - nothing of any significance is being done for the large number of people disposed of to make way for the new, cheaper crop. http://www.ostp.gov/PCAST/NITRD%20Review.pdf http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9040761&intsrc=hm_list Careers in IT/software/networking take a significant investment by people who pursue such careers. If you are in the top 20% but not 10%, your career will be far shorter than you need unless you have outside financial help/luck, and you and your family, without outside resources, will be left in a very challenging and non-family-friendly situation of looking for a new career/job that pays a livable wage when you are in your 40s or 50s or 60s. And, I hope you were not suggesting that "family-friendly" benefits such as paid sicktime or onsite day care would be available only to the "strongest" employees, say, the upper 10%.

aroc
aroc

Take a look at yesterday's (Sunday) Dilbert cartoon to see Scott Adams' take on this issue - way too true as usual. I think he must have been getting input from employees at companies where the hypocrisy about "work-life balance" (to use IBM's phrase - from which I was laid off recently) is rampant. Now I am back at the company I was at before being laid off by IBM, and after being gone for 7 years, it is quite instructive to see that most of the poeple I worked with then are still there, and not much interested in leaving - big difference from IBM (at least the Global Services group I was in). Question, Toni: do the "Top 100 places to work" get rated on this work-life balance aspect (and how genuine they are about it versus IBM's lip service)? ROC

wilswong
wilswong

I wish there would be more articles like this in Singapore. Here people worked till the cows come home and leave home..into the wee night and even early morning just because they are scared of being given the sack or not give the promotion or bonus. The companies mostly in Singapore especially those small and medium sized ones are really so cost conscious that employees are not human beings anymore...so what's the point of knowing employees' issues at work and at play? Yes we do have a robust economy but at what social cost? and the sad part of it all, the whole Singapore has high turnover rate until the next economic slump comes...and then people will be worried being retrenched and the cycle continues.

peeusht
peeusht

I was thinking of a Job in Singapore a few months back.But 1 of my cosuins warned me of the drawbacks then. It is very bad . In fact in India too many employees work too much ;finish work before deadlines and get rewards and recognitions . Good for them .But others in companies who can't remain in Office extra-time each day suffer or seem like less productive. I think there needs to be a worldwide movement for this !

PeterSS
PeterSS

I think the UK (and probably most of Europe) is far better in this than the USA or Singapore. When I've talked to those working in the states, I'm amazed at how many hours they work, and their willingness to do it. I work a nominal 36 hour week, but have flexi-time, so can work extra hours to take 1/2 extra days off per month. I can flex the amount of leave I take by "buying"/"selling" leave days. I get plenty of time to spend with my family. I sincerely hope that the UK doesn't follow USA in its working practices!

pgerdes
pgerdes

My personal experience has been that an individual can still make choices about how to approach their careers in IT. When I was fresh out of college, eager to get ahead, single, and full of energy, I often worked long and tedious hours in IT, always taking on more, always trying to learn more. Like most people, as you age and advance in your career, you learn their are trade-offs between work and home life. I've had much higher paying jobs in the past, that also included longer hours and heavy travel. In my current role as an IT Manager, I generally work between 35 and 40 hours per week in the office, and of course I am tethered to work via a BlackBerry and laptop PC even when I'm not at work. My salary is about average, but the real benefits are flexible hours, recognition of my personal and family priorities, a good health care plan, paid vacation/sick days, and a general low-stress environment. I've had more money, but I've never been more content career wise. That's my view from Austin, TX, USA. Cheers.

teoiling
teoiling

No welfare. Isn't it. Singaporean Citizen does not have much rights and protection in terms of employment or against any bias employers choose to exercise. The solution: Migrate and work in OTHER countries

fcarr
fcarr

The real trend in IT hiring in the US is to hire young, naive, people fresh out of school who don't have any of those sticky family problems yet. You put them in a college-like setting so they feel at home. You work them so many hours that they chance of them building a lasting relationship while at your company is quite low. When they burnout in a few years, replace them with a new crop.

peeusht
peeusht

Unfortunately ,in India too many companies give such a preference .Luckily,we have not reached the stage as yet when our Job Climate goes very risky .

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

We're always hearing the other side about some companies that won't touch you unless you have experience.

teoiling
teoiling

When the in-experience are dirt cheap, almost free labour (Singapore do not have minimum wage - therefore $1 is minimum wage) and there is a large pile of work that experienced people refused to do because it will potentially fail and will open a large can of very huge worms, politically harmful to their careers. This is where hiring the unsuspecting, in-experienced newcomer can come in handy to be assigned and therefore blamed for project failures. This happens so much in Asia. I wonder when I will get blamed for the next project failure since Ijust joint a new company.

teoiling
teoiling

That's a real phenomenon everywhere especially in Asia where the Indians and PRCs are highly mobile and low cost in terms of replacing headcount. Quality and professionalism went flying out the window the moment that happened. Its a MTV age where the war cry is : Use them and toss them. To IT managers: Employee issue will remain their own issue. If they cannot get their arse to work, well, don't come anymore. There's always someone cheaper from grad school or from India/China or any of the asian countries willing to do your job for one tenth of your salary. After 10 years in IT, I feel jaded and used.

Editor's Picks