“Sorry I’m late. I got caught up at work. No, I wasn’t busy with anything or swamped with any important projects. I just had to stay there. I literally just had to be in the building.”
This is one side of an actual greeting overheard at a recent social event. His remarks and explanation for tardiness were met with collective laughter and nods of understanding and empathy from the group. If there were any HR leaders in the crowd, they certainly would have cringed at the sound. Is there anything worse than an employee who is present but not productive, sucking up company funds without contributing anything in return?
By this point in the blog series, we have identified and explored several variables tied to employee motivation and engagement, and we know that each individual values these dimensions to different degrees. Today’s HR leaders are walking a tightrope to find the ideal blend of engagement and recognition initiatives that complement their organizational culture. For some, frequent personal recognition is a necessity to provide a sense of belonging and feeling of appreciation. Others thrive on being a part of an exciting work atmosphere that consistently presents challenges and new opportunities. Most workers can agree that there is an underlying need for feeling a sense of security in the job and the future of the organization.
A key takeaway to this point is that pay is not the only reason people work. However, for all intents and purposes, it is the quid pro quo of employment. For the gentleman in our opening anecdote, it seems the number one reason for holding his current position is the financial aspect of it. Perhaps his outlook is that, as it stands today, there is only one form of currency accepted by utility companies, and the one way to ensure we have enough of this tender to pay the bills, feed our families and live comfortably is to get a job.
Beyond the fundamental need for pay to meet our basic financial needs, people want to know that they are being compensated fairly for their time and effort. This includes base salary, bonuses, benefits and other rewards. Moreover, employees want their pay to align with their efforts, the work difficulty or environment and the market. It is not just more pay they are after, it’s fair pay.
Here are some actions, suggested by Dr. Jack Wiley, that Human Resources leaders can take to create and maintain a positive experience when it comes to pay:
Conduct market research. Ensure that your organization offers salaries, hourly wages and benefits packages that are consistent with the organization’s compensation philosophy.
Clarify earning potential. Be clear what knowledge, skills or behaviors will result in raises, bonuses and/or additional benefits. This will help create a clear picture of the specific steps or actions employees need to take to increase their compensation.
Ensure there is alignment between benefit offerings and employee needs. When offering benefits packages, ensure the benefits are desirable to employees. Discover the amount or frequency each benefit is used and determine if there are any benefits that should be replaced. If so, discuss the replacement options with employees to learn what they most value. You’ll also want to make sure that you understand your employee demographics to offer benefits that hit the mark.
Statements like the one in the introduction to this piece are unavoidable to some extent. There will unfortunately always be some instances of lousy person-organization fit and those workers whose only objective is to achieve financial stability. Still, we know that if HR leaders take measures like these to improve how employees experience fair pay, these expressions will become less frequent and productivity will increase considerably.
NOTE: This is part of a blog series based on Dr. Jack Wiley’s paper Suggested Actions for Human Resources to Create a Better Employee Experience. Be sure to check out the other parts of the series:
Part 4: Seeking [Job] Security