IT Employment

So you think you know your employees?

Research is clear - most bosses are wrong about what motivates employees. Leadership coach John M McKee presents some research and then comments about what's going on.
Quick - what's the most important key to employees' overall job satisfaction?

Is it money? Relationships? Healthcare? Or something different entirely?

A while back Harris Interactive and staffing / recruitment firm Spherion Corp joined forces to poll people at all levels about what matters most to them. The results showed one thing clearly: many bosses (maybe you?) don't have a clue. There were significant differences in the viewpoints of the worker and the boss about what motivates and drives retention.

The biggest disconnect between the groups was surrounding the whole issue of "life balance." Nearly two- thirds of employees said that time and flexibility are very important while only about 30% of the employers felt that issue would be a very significant factor for their teams. Other important variances:

    According to Management, these were most important to their employees:

Open door climate - 80%

Supervisor relationship - 80%

    Employees, on the other hand, said these were bigger issues:

Financial compensation and benefits - 68% (duh)

Growth and earnings potential - 64% (see above comment)

Culture and work environment - 64%

So, let's recap: We know that employees are "like other forms of human being" - they come to work to make the most money they can, working in a place that provides a fair balance of work/life time, they prefer to grow in their jobs, and - on a day-to-day basis - they want to be at a place with a culture they share and value.

One would hope that this is not really staggeringly-new insight here for the average boss or employer.

So why the disconnect? Why do so many manager types believe that their team members are more interested or motivated by an open door policy than a good paycheck? I believe this naivety may have to do with:

1. Many companies' beliefs that they already pay well enough and therefore don't need to focus on that issue, or

2. The fact that the financial spread is so great between what top executives report earning (millions) and what the average employee makes in the US. (about $32k).

People read. They investigate market conditions. They try to improve their quality of life. Today, more than ever, many are feeling at risk of being laid off and they are trying to look after their needs. If your organization is placing an overly strong emphasis on the right tools to motivate or retain, you'll be able to tell pretty easily.

The best way to assess the quality of an organization is by looking at who is leaving it.

More than who is joining, the departures are the most accurate indicator because it shows clearly when the best folks have decided to move on. When good people won't stay, the company enters a period of entropy. Nothing survives entropic situations.

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...

8 comments
sbharatula
sbharatula

Laying off is not the solution,Motivate,retrain and extract the work should be the management Tactic.There lies in management intelligence. Shankar Bharatula

tekwrytr
tekwrytr

One word; Herzberg. Manager's love him, because he argued that money is not a motivating factor for employees; recognition by superiors and pats on the head are (according to Herzberg) MUCH more important. Herzberg's "Two-Factor" theories are regularly recycled through the Harvard Review of Business, and every graduate-level management class and textbook in the US (possibly the world). Managers are not really disconnected; they just never learned to read (and study) critically. Specifically, the notion by managers that compensation is not motivating stems primarily from Herzberg's study of a handful of lifer engineers many years ago. Because it is useful for managers to believe their actions are more important than such trivial matters as compensation, they fail to question the underlying validity of the claims, as well as the usefulness of the theory. tekwrytr

jonsaint
jonsaint

My former employer, the one with the three famous initials beginning with an "I", commissioned a study by McKinney back in 2002 to tell them that the economy was so bad that employees had no where else to go. The company has acted as if it were so ever since. For the first time last year more professional employees quit than were laid off. Management's response? To give themselves even bigger boni for exceeding their headcount reduction targets. Hertzberg said in his pyramid that freedom from fear was underneath the pay layer. Like tekwrytr says, the Harvard Business Review's constant ignoring of the obvious has turned professional management in the US into the leaders of this country's downfall.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I'd say in terms of recent leavers the split was 50 / 50 between good guys and tossers. So I guess that on average the firm must be doing OK. Our lot have just started a new drive and filled the common room with marketing bumph and an air hockey table. I'm at a loss as to which I find more annoying, seeing as a recent big issue was how much milk we used making drinks. There I was concerned for my colleagues as I take mine black. If you want to make work a better place, cheerful emails and short term touchy feely stuff isn't the way. Get the little things right. If the coffee is free, nmake sure the kettle works. If there's a vending machine, make sure it's stocked and takes the local currency.... I have no objection to more money, but that doesn't make work a better place, it gives you more reasons to stay somewhere bad.

rancho
rancho

"I have no objection to more money, but that doesn't make work a better place, it gives you more reasons to stay somewhere bad." What a wonderful insight.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

After working for a previous employer for over twenty years, my reputation preceeded me. Where the old bosses did take the time to know they're employees, todays bosses don't have the time and are seldom in their offices to be there for that supposed open door policy. Now my bosses look for an employee by reputation and search them out, ready and willing to meet the expectations and financial goals just to get them on board. Myself, I'm happily enjoying just being able to put money in my 401K and keeping myself in good health, able to continue my gainful employment. I know the day will come when I might not be able to meet the health requirements needed to keep up with the younger generation that will replace me but I strive to set a pace that some younger coworkers can't or won't match. With a pension from a previous emplyer and a health 401K plan, financial aspects are not as much a concern as medical benefits and vacation time are but they could and should be a real concern for the younger set and most employers are not meeting those expectations.

jtaylor3678
jtaylor3678

I may be one of the lucky ones. I'm in my first tech position, and love the company I work for. My previous employer ran a company of 25 people. After two years he still called me by a coworker's name (a coworker that started a year after I did, no less). He paid just as much attention to our needs as employees. I started my current position two weeks before the annual meeting at the home office. Since I work a couple hundred miles from the home office I don't get much chance to meet my coworkers face-to-face. When I went to introduce myself to the company owner she already knew who I was, my background, and even some personal (but not invasive)information that most employers would not have bothered to find out. I have been continually impressed by how much time management takes to show appreciation for our work. I would gladly continue working here before taking another poition elsewhere for more money.

jmckee7307
jmckee7307

Is this a situation you've come across before?

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