People are without a doubt any organization’s most valuable asset. And in a tight labor market where competition for the best and brightest is fierce, many organizations are feeling the pressure to be the highest bidder with salaries and bonuses. While compensation obviously matters, it isn’t the only—or even the best—way to bring talent into your organization or keep quality employees long-term. This is especially true as organizations look to onboard a new generation of workers who expect much more than a paycheck in return for their 40 hours.
Companies that aspire to be today’s employer of choice are looking beyond payroll and going directly to people at all levels of the organization to learn exactly what it is that compels them to join or stay at a business. And what they’re finding is that many of the key issues people cite for staying or going can be addressed relatively simply and affordably.
If your business is looking for ways to modernize its employee value proposition and become more attractive to current and future employees, here are several questions worth asking:
- How much say do employees have in their jobs and the business overall? At all levels, people want to feel like they’re contributing to the organization’s success. One of the top reasons people leave a job is because they feel like they don’t have a voice. Does your current culture and leadership style allow for people to solve problems and make their own decisions? Do employees at all levels understand their role in the bigger picture? When you engage employees in their work and give them autonomy in their roles, your operation will become more productive and efficient and at the same time, employee satisfaction will rise.
- What roadblocks stand in the way of getting work done? Giving people greater authority and granting them decision rights in their roles is a major step toward improving employees’ productivity and sense of accomplishment. But it’s only part of the equation. A common complaint we hear from disgruntled employees is that they don’t have easy access to the tools they need to complete their work. This could point to poor maintenance practices within the organization. If industrial equipment doesn’t function the way it should, then employees can’t achieve their throughput goals without rework or overtime. It could also be a symptom of poor housekeeping or workflow practices: when resources aren’t logically organized or processes are inefficient, people’s time is wasted. The best way to determine where the bottlenecks exist is to ask your people for some candid input. Incorporating huddle meetings or other leader standard work into your daily management practices can be a great way to get feedback from workers at all levels and identify root causes behind trouble spots.
- Are the shift schedules workable for a wide range of employees? As work-life balance becomes increasingly important, especially to new generations of workers, start and stop times matter. And it’s possible that your current shift schedules are limiting your pool of potential employees. Workers with families and children have to work around school schedules and their spouses’ work schedules, and some employees may even have another job to consider. It’s worth giving some consideration to how you might be able to adjust shift work to better accommodate these situations.
- Do our facilities provide a decent work environment? Take a tour of your plant and offices and look at them through the eyes of a potential candidate or even an existing employee. What is the overall condition of the space? What kind of an impression does it make? How’s the lighting? Don’t forget to check out the lunch area, breakrooms, and bathrooms. While nobody’s expecting the Taj Mahal, you’d be surprised by the number of facilities we see where these spaces are either unclean, understocked, or non-functional. And while the state of the restrooms probably isn’t on any employee’s list of make-or-break criteria, how you maintain your facilities definitely sends a message as to how much you value your people.
- Are there key areas where we can significantly improve the quality of our employees’ lives? Most organizations’ benefits packages include the standards like healthcare and paid vacation time, but a little out-of-the-box thinking about the amenities and services you offer can truly set your organization apart. In Mexico, it’s becoming common for large maquiladoras to provide onsite healthcare and childcare. A few other benefits that are starting to emerge in forward-thinking organizations include the option of adding aging parents to a healthcare plan and the availability of financial services such as one-on-one reviews of investments or help with repaying college debts. While perks like this likely represent a major expense, the returns in terms of employee productivity and satisfaction can be immense.
Let your people guide the way
More than ever before, becoming an employer of choice takes more than salary dollars. Organizations that want to bring in the best people and reduce turnover need to find the right combination of environment, culture, and amenities that contribute to satisfaction both in and out of the workplace. As you consider how you are going to invest in your people, don’t forget to get their input. When you take the time to uncover their pain points and think creatively about how best to address them, you can make a lot of progress in becoming the type of organization that key employees never want to leave.