Article first published as Negotiating Workload Limits on Technorati. Being assertive while negotiating workload limits is a crucial for success skill today.
The secret to having happy employees is to fire the unhappy ones says Jay Goltz who is a typical entrepreneur who runs five successful small businesses in Chicago, employing more than 100 people. If you think his advice is controversial, read the follow-up post that he has in The New York Times. He has clarified what he means by unhappy employees. He maintains that this works well particularly for small enterprises which have their own rules and constraints.
The state of the national economy, the mood of the country and it’s growth trajectory, too, have a significant impact on the workers’ attitudes and expectations. This comes from a recent Watson & Wyatt’ s survey, one of the most comprehensive studies to understand workers’ attitudes.
The highest engagement levels were found to be in Europe, followed by Asia Pacific with Americans being the least engaged. According to Anita Belani, country head for Watson Wyatt in India: “Attitudinally, the centrality of work in an executive’s life in Europe is not as high as in many other places, Shorter work week, work-life balance and vacation time keep engagement high”
The sheer growth momentum in the Asia-Pacific is keeping spirits high. Even though the work conditions in the region may be far below the western nations’ standards, the buoyancy in the economy and optimistic job outlook have kept workers modestly engaged. India, with a buoyant economy and a cheery outlook, leads with engagement levels at 78%, followed by the Philippines. Japan and its lacklustre economy is visibly taking its toll. China does not figure strongly in the engagement score>
The study reveals that Indian workers are happiest about their role clarity and how they fit into the entire scheme of things in the company. The respect at the workplace and outside plays a significant role in a worker’s life. “Work defines who you are here,” says Belani.
No prizes for guessing the bottom three: salaries and training & development remains big problem areas. Surprisingly, strategic leadership and direction too find mention here. “It need not be the big boss, but the immediate supervisor who might be responsible,” says Belani.
Frequent promotions and ill-equipped insecure supervisors with poor managerial skills are creating a spiralling discontent within organisations. Companies dealing with hyper growth will need to find a better way to promote and prepare young executives for bigger roles.
Every one of India’s tech companies wrestles with issues of attrition amongst employees. But why do India’s IT people change jobs?
A survey published by Dataquest-IDC of the Best Employers for 2007 has these as the top 10 reasons:
- Salary & compensation: also the top ranking factor in 2006, although the percentage giving it Rank 1 has fallen somewhat.
- Overseas opportunity: Replaces “Growth opportunities” as No.2. But people look for relatively shorter duration assignments abroad.
- Growth opportunity/career development: Fallen from No. 2 last year.
- Location: Considered more important than last year but in the same rank- No. 4.
- Technology one is working on: Pretty much same as last year.
- Job content: Same rank as last year with a lesser % just like “Technology”
- Perks & Benefits Same rank as last year with a much lesser %
- Flexibility with office hours/balancing of social life: Same rank as last year with a lesser %
- Appraisal system: Pretty much same as last year.
- Company image: Pretty much same as last year
Interestingly, amongst the factors ranked lower, job security climbed to rank 11 from 14; Interpersonal relations fell to rank 16 from rank 13 last year.
So folks, not much has changed. The challenge continues for managements . To increase the intrinsic motivators (like the work itself, recognition and work challenges ) to off set the clamor for compensation and overseas opportunities.
The Dataquest-IDC Survey of the Best Employers in the IT industry has been released.
2,844 software, hardware and marketing professionals took part in the 7th annual Dataquest-IDC survey. They were from 33 IT companies, totally employing 3,04,834 people in 7 cities.
TCS retained the No. 1 position followed by HCL Infosystems, iGate, RMSI and Synechron. IBM was rated the sixth best employer, followed by Capgemini, Infosys, Tavant Technologies and Sun Microsystems.
If you think attrition is bad in your firm/industry and you are facing unique problems, cheer up! The attrition bug is affecting all spheres of industry in India.
A recent issue of “Business Today” tell us that a survey by Assocham shows that attrition levels in the Indian industry as a whole are higher than 20 % at present. The services sector is the worst hit with attrition rates as high as 40 %. The IT/ITEs sector has about 25-40 % and the BPO sector 30-35 %. Even the manufacturing sector is facing attrition of 20 %.
The problem is most acute with employees in the 26-30 years age group with 2-4 years experience. It is estimated that India Inc will face a shortage of 5-6 million professionals over the next 5 years
The war for talent is only going to get worse as more opportunities open up to the workforce. Our organisations have to give top priority to the engagement and retention of valuable human capital now, more than ever before.
A report of the Society for Human Resource Management report following its June 24 annual conference and exposition in Las Vegas shows up interesting data.
HR professionals rate relationships with managers higher in determining a worker’s job satisfaction than employees themselves do. Compensation and benefits are the factors that most heavily influence whether someone likes his or her job—and 79 percent of the respondents in SHRM’s 2007 Job Satisfaction survey are happy at work.
The top five issues rated as “very important” by employees are compensation, benefits, job security, work/life balance and communication between them and management. HR staff, meanwhile, rated their top five as relationship with immediate supervisor, compensation/pay, management recognition of employee job performance, benefits and senior management-employee communications.
Employees ranked management recognition of their performance and their relationship with their immediate supervisor as the seventh and eighth most important influences on job satisfaction.
Placing too high a value on how employees and managers interact may be outmoded thinking.
“HR professionals’ response suggest that their perceptions of employee happiness reflect traditional thinking in the HR literature regarding employee needs for communication and recognition,” the report states. “While HR professionals are in sync with the attributes most important to employees—benefits and compensation—they consistently allow these factors to be overshadowed by issues that are not among the most relevant to employee job satisfaction.”
What is key is the package of benefits, which did not make the top five in HR’s ranking as recently as 2002. “These data illustrate that benefits, along with compensation, are of utmost importance to employees, and this trend is likely to continue,” the report states.
Even though HR was correct in perceiving that pay and benefits are important to employees, it has not done a good enough job explaining to workers the details of their remuneration at a time when many people feel that pay is not keeping up with the cost of living.
Overall, HR overrated 14 dimensions of job satisfaction. There were four areas that employees valued more than HR anticipated: feeling safe in the work environment, meaningfulness of the job, the work itself and the variety of work.
Despite the growing emphasis on talent management, employees placed career development, their contribution to business goals, and training and tuition reimbursement in the bottom half of the 22 job satisfaction factors the poll measured.
Most organisations understand the importance of having engaged employees since there is a strong co-relation between employee engagement and organisational performance. Engagement is an emotional bonding with the organisation with engaged employees strongly identifying with and practising the values the organisation holds sacred.
In now legendary research, Gallup devised a series of 12 Questions used to measure employee engagement.
Here are the 12 questions:
- Do you know what is expected of you at work?
- Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?
- At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
- In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
- At work, do your opinions seem to count?
- Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
- Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
- Do you have a best friend at work?
- In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
- In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
Without doubt, in today’s world, retention of talent is key to success. Employers and employed alike would do well to think about these simple yet highly thought provoking questions.
Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000) is famous for his Two Factor Theory of Human Motivation. He also wrote what became a HBR Classic: “One More Time. How Do You Motivate Employees?”
His Two Factor Theory of Motivation suggests that there are two sets of factors that influence work life. Satisfiers and Dissatisfiers. Dissatisfiers are those factors whose presence do not motivate but their absence causes dissatisfaction. Amongst them are Company policy, the quality of supervision, working conditions and interestingly, pay. The true motivators on the other hand are all intrinsic to the individual and include achievement, advancement, responsibility and work content.
Herzberg wrote about his Two Factor Theory of Motivation way back in 1959. Nearly 5 decades later they are , in my view, as relevant as always. Hence, I say: “One More Time. Frederick Herzberg.”