Friday, October 26, 2012

Being An Employer Of Choice

During the last ten years, there has been significant downsizing in many industries, wages have been flat, benefits have been cut, lavish holiday parties and other employee perks have disappeared and in general Middle Class families in the US are earning about $4,300 less than they earned four years ago.   Yet, most companies would still like to be regarded as a Employer Of Choice, an organization that employees prefer working at when compared to other companies.  

But how is it possible to be an Employer of Choice in bad times, in particular, when it is impossible to significantly raise compensation and benefits.   First the easiest thing to do is to provide a nice work environment, including work stations, offices, break rooms and clean rest rooms.   Second would be providing technology and IT support that makes doing the job easier.  Third is a recognition that employees want flexibility and reasonable time off when they need it to deal with family issues. 

Everyone wants promotions and upward mobility, both of which are more possible during strong economic times and less probable during bad economic times.   However, it is possible to provide for a career ladder within each job to reward those with more experience with higher base pay.   And, even if lateral moves, encouraging employees to take jobs in other departments to build experience and resume is also very good.  Further, providing tuition reimbursement assistance to either get a college degree, or a graduate degree is important to career development, particularly since some, or all of these monies can be provided without income tax implications, in many countries, including the United States.   In addition, award programs should be in place to recognize employees for a variety of positive contributions, not only to the organization; but the community at large. 

Finally, this CEO Blogger believes that the direct report management relationship is absolutely critical to Being An Employer Of Choice.  Employees don't just quit because they are unhappy with the company, more often than not they quit because they dislike working for their Manager.   No one is going to work for a Manager for long who is abusive, dismissive, disorganized, or uncaring.   Any time we see a high turnover trend in a particular department, or division, it is very likely that there are issues with the direct report manager.   When that happens, it is time for Senior Management to step in to address the problem.

It never ceases to amaze me when I do what we call President's Round Table, just sitting and talking with our employees, I learn of company practices that are not company policy, at least not anything I have ever sanctioned, or ordered.   I suspect this happens at many companies as Managers impose what they believe to be practices in the best interest of the company that can actually be very short sighted and or counter productive.   When I encounter one of these practices, it gets changed very quickly; but I am quite certain there are things happening at all companies that are contrary to Being An Employer Of Choice. 

Work is not necessarily fun; though it should be enjoyable and rewarding.  The work environment can be fun as a result of various company sponsored activities designed to build camaraderie and relationships.   For some employees with problems at home, work can actually be a refuge.  Smart companies should work to be an Employer of Choice.  This will not only lead to lower turnover, it will also result in higher productivity.  In some ways this is simple process.   Just ask employees what is important to them and to the degree possible, DO IT. 

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