Forget the traditional New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, eating healthier, and being more organized. Guest poster Rebecca Whittenberger sets her sights on a group of employees with a less positive plan: They want to push their boss out the door in 2013.
Whittenberger cites a recent article on the CNN Money website that says 2% of participants in a recent poll claim their top goal for the New Year is helping their boss get sacked. The survey was conducted by job and career site Glassdoor.com.
Although specific reasons for this rather extreme goal weren’t mentioned, frustration with upper-level management is not uncommon. One well-known employee complaint is that executive supervisors and CEOs seem to manage from a distance and that they don’t really understand what’s going on with their front-line workers.
This problem is humorously examined in the hit TV show Undercover Boss, which features CEOs masquerading as new hires in their own companies so they can truly understand their workers’ jobs.
After showing amusing footage of the CEOs being trained by their own employees and laboriously stumbling through tasks as a “new hire,” a revelation takes place. The CEOs realize the hard work required of their front-line employees and become more empathetic and compassionate.
And just in time, too, because another new year’s goal many employees have is looking for a new job.
People as Products
It’s no secret that employees are the life force of a company. Happy employees help make money; angry ones help lose it. How should CEOs and HR departments improve management tactics that support the retention of our most valuable human capital?
According to an essay by Edelman Change & Employee Engagement, viewing our best employees as real products that possess information, perspective, and expertise is crucial.
Their “institutional knowledge” is a valuable commodity that can and should be shared with clients, coworkers, and the marketplace itself. Employees just need the opportunities and encouragement to do so.
The Edelman essay also says that, “your best talent is looking to become more engaged with the organization or brand. Especially in a manner that suits their interests and ambitions. If they can’t, there is a good chance they will leave.”
The Next Decade
Since the top challenges facing HR professionals in the next ten years are retention and rewarding the best employees (according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management), what strategies should be used to deal with these objectives?
The SHRM survey of HR professionals lists the top four responses that will be the most effective methods for attracting, retaining, and rewarding employees in the next ten years:
- Providing flexible work arrangements
- Developing an organizational culture of trust, fairness, and open communication, which is emphasized and practiced by leaders
- Giving workers opportunities for career advancement
- Offering a greater rewards package than companies competing for the same talent
Providing flexible work arrangements
In an article for SHRM by Kathy Gurchiek, work-flex options are important tools that should be used to help manage and motivate the best talent.
These options can help lower absenteeism and turnover rates, as seen in the example of Solix, Inc., a business firm in New Jersey.
After trying out a two-week pilot project of employees working from home, the company offered “compressed workweeks” for staff members who wanted more time with family but preferred the office structure.
Other flex options now include flexible hours, telecommuting, bereavement leave, phased retirement, and development and training both on and off the premises.
As a result, both absenteeism and turnover rates were reduced dramatically. Solix’s CEO advises that employees should just be asked what will make them more productive.
Developing a culture of trust and open communication
In Edelman Insights: Comprehending Change 3.0, “a recent study noted that companies with effective communicators achieved 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared to firms judged to have less effective communications.”
Internal communication best-practice procedures now focus more on engagement than straight dissemination of facts. Change management, onboarding, work-flex options – everything needs to be clearly communicated to provide an atmosphere of transparency.
Giving workers opportunities for career advancement
SHRM reports that an analysis of worker reviews from over 250,000 big U.S. companies revealed one of the top factors promoting employee happiness was career advancement. A top scorer in this category was the U.S. Navy, which provides a career advancement program.
Service members said that these training programs gave them skills that would apply to both public and private sectors. Providing workers with ways to increase both their technical and “soft skills” is a smart way to make a long-term investment in your staff.
Offering a greater rewards package
Similar to career advancement options, a competitive rewards package will help prevent “the grass is always greener” perception among your employees, especially when other employers come calling.
And feel free to be creative. One company’s benefits in the SHRM report included tuition reimbursement, commuter benefits, adoption benefits, and pet insurance. It pays to invest in services like these, especially if the reward is staff loyalty.
So the question is, what are we doing to get the best possible return on our human capital investment? Once the new hire is on board, what are we doing to engage them and prevent them from wanting to get us fired? Figuring that out should be our New Year’s resolution.
Rebecca Whittenberger is a communications specialist for via680, a communication software company.