Do You Know What Your Employees Really Want?
For real insight, go to the source
Jennifer Wheatley, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
When you read the title of this article, did you immediately answer this question with, "Yes, my employees want to make a lot of money and have a great benefits package"? While that answer may be correct, it certainly isn't the only or entire answer.
As an HR practitioner who has been in the field for many years, I can say with confidence that most managers/owners would say that they do know what their employees want and/or need. However, often those same managers are making assumptions about their employees' requirements based upon their own needs, the needs of the business, or traditional norms. A great example is vacation or paid time off. Does your laboratory have a standard policy that offers paid time off after a certain amount of service time? When was the last time you reviewed your paid time off policy? Is it meeting the needs of your workforce today? Paid time off is an important benefit to most employees. Does your policy require a new hire to wait for a year before being eligible for paid time off? If so, you should consider revising this to meet the needs of today's workforce. To remain competitive, some employers are now offering unlimited paid time off (within reason). Your laboratory may not be in the position to do that, but you can consider changing your policy to meet the needs of your employees and still ensure your clients' needs are being met.
Besides a good salary and benefits package, there are many other things that are important to employees. I often hear from my clients that employees want more flexibility with their work schedules. The personal responsibilities and obligations that employees have today create the need for more consideration and understanding from their employer. Consider, for example, the following scenario at a large manufacturing company operating three shifts. The company had a long-standing policy that time off could be used only in 4-hour increments. It was a constant source of frustration for the growing workforce, but even after many requests from employees, management was reluctant to change. This lack of flexibility in the policy created employee dissatisfaction and resulted in unnecessary additional lost productivity as well as turnover. Finally, after much consideration, the company changed the policy and quickly reduced the employee complaints and decreased the hours of lost productivity.
The labor market is tight, and competition for employees is at an all-time high. Employees have so many choices and options for employment, so laboratories need to effectively compete with other employers, offering the right benefits, compensation, a great culture, and other incentives critical in ensuring a productive workforce. How do you know what are the "right" benefits? The answer is simple: Ask the workers. Obviously, it takes more than that, but if you really take the time to understand and offer those things, can you imagine the level of employee satisfaction and engagement you could achieve?
According to an article in Inc. Magazine,1 the 10 things an employee wants most from their company are:
• Opportunities for innovation
When you look at this list and think about your employees, do you think these align with their needs? They may or they may not. The important thing is that you take the time to find out what isimportant to them. What are some ways to determine the needs of your employees? Soliciting feedback is the best way to really know. There are many ways to receive feedback, including employee interviews, focus groups, surveys, and even exit interviews. Employees will appreciate the fact that you sought out their opinion.
A word of caution here though: You should not attempt to obtain feedback from your employees if you have no intention of making any changes. Employee surveys are great tools to receive information, but if the employees don't see any actions taken based on the surveys, they will be reluctant to continue to provide feedback.
The workforce today is diverse and so are the needs of those employees. What might be important to some employees may not even be on the radar of others. Ensuring every employee has exactly what they need is not realistic, but taking the time to really understand your employees' top priorities is crucial. There is no value in touting a benefit that your employees don't need. Providing the things that your workers truly value will help ensure they are not searching for the employer who will.
About the Author
Jennifer Wheatley, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is the President of HR Affiliates.
1. Lapowsky I. 10 Things Employees Want Most. Inc. Published August 27, 2010. https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/08/10-things-employees-want.html. Accessed January 21, 2020.