Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen two research pieces about what employees want. The first is Quantum Workplace’s “2014 Recognition Trends Report” and the other is the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) “Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Road to Economic Recovery”. Both reports are excellent and you should download them. And study them. Carefully.
What struck me as I was reading was the focus on employee compensation. Yes, employee pay is the number one issue facing companies today. Employee pay is linked to job satisfaction and recognition – regardless of generation. Boomers, GenXers, and Millennials all agree on this one.
Even engaged and disengaged employees agree that pay increases are the number one form of recognition. Tenure with the organization doesn’t matter. Nor does position title or department. Oh and in case you were wondering, people of different gender, race, ethnicity, and education feel the same way. It’s about the pay check.
As a human resources professional, I have said for years “money isn’t a top motivator”. Well guess what? That’s changed. After reading these reports, it’s hard to ignore that money is THE motivator. If companies want employees to focus on being productive, owning their career development, and having a higher sense of engagement, then they need to figure out how to take the money conversation off the table. Only then will the conversation shift to leadership development, telework, and team building.
In the past, I’ve written many posts about the need for employees to brush up their skills and sell their value to get better pay. You can see a few of them here, here, and here. Today I want to take a different approach and ask the question, “What are companies offering that justifies not paying competitive salaries?”
Sure, there will be people who are not motivated by money. They will take a job because the company offers a unique perk like free travel or great discounts on clothes. Others will work for less pay because the company provides work experiences they couldn’t obtain any other way.
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But if you’re a company that doesn’t offer either of those things – great perks or awesome work experience opportunities – then what are you offering that would make employees not think about pay?
As the labor market is getting tougher, companies will be competing for talent. I can see in the not so distant future a candidate saying, “I have offers from other companies – at a higher salary. Why should I come to work for you?” Organizations need to be prepared to answer the question.