Posted: March 08, 2011
Ten hardcore realities for employers
You want to keep the best people? Then listen upBy John Heckers
In a previous article, I wrote about 10 hardcore workplace realities for employees . Now, employers, it is your turn. Here are 10 things that employers must deal with if they intend to keep employees as the economy recovers and jobs become more plentiful.
1). You must have compassion. Yes, employees must do more with less. But this doesn't mean that they aren't still human. People have a variety of concerns other than the workplace. Some of your employees might be close to foreclosure, going through a divorce, just have had a death in the family, major health concerns for themselves or for their families, and so on.
A good employer is one who recognizes and has compassion for these things. Generous time off, an understanding ear and even just knowing what is going on in your employees' lives will go a long way toward making your workplace humane and human. Not offering these things will cost you in morale and good employees. No one will stay in a workplace where their humanity and needs are not recognized and served. Nor should they.
2). No rigid hierarchies. While there has to be a time where the boss is the boss, rigid hierarchies create a nasty workplace. This isn't the Army, and even the Army is moving toward a more "team" approach. Rather than having people work for you, have them work with you. See your employees for what they are - valued associates upon whom the success of your business depends. Treat them as fellow workers.
3). Health insurance. I just know the trolls are going to hit me on this one, but I believe it is a moral imperative for companies to provide their employees with good health insurance. We pay 100 percent of our employees' health insurance, and have a very good plan. At the very least, health insurance must be affordable for every employee. This is going to be a major competitive incentive as the economy gets better. Those of you who do not provide your employees with health insurance (and other types of insurance) will lose out to those of us who do.
4). Pay differential. Of course there is going to be some differential in what the top people in your company are paid and what the employees are paid. Any reasonable employee expects this. But if you're paying yourself a king's ransom, and your employees like paupers, you are going to lose some of your most valued associates in the future. Keep the pay differentials as small as possible. Again, realize that your success if dependent on the morale and loyalty of your staff, and act accordingly, not with greed.
5). Perks. The worst employers treat executives one way and other employees entirely differently. One major well-known Denver employer was telling employees about laying them off and, at the same time, bragging about how many executive aircraft the company had and how expensive they were to keep up. This is just plain bad business! I am also against bonuses for executives in a company that is laying off workers. Lay-offs are failures and should not be rewarded by bonuses for those whose decisions made the lay-offs necessary. In fact, unless you're a Fortune 500 company (for whom there is no moral hope), your benefits and "perks" should be very similar to those of your valued associates (employees).
6). Attitude. No one has the right to the service of another person. Ordering employees about, screaming at people and simply expecting servile attitudes mark you as a very bad boss. While a certain amount of discipline must be maintained, this should be done with courtesy, sensitivity and skill, not with ham-handed demands.
7). Employee time. While we all have to work evenings and weekends, employee "off time" should be respected insofar as possible. Some employees might need to be "on-call" 24/7, depending on your industry and their job title. But some bad bosses have employees work unnecessary weekends and evenings, and have no respect for their time.
8). Be reasonable. A 40-hour work week is probably dead. But the work-week should not consistently be 80 hours, either. Set deadlines as reasonably as possible. Manage client expectations so that your staff doesn't have to pull back-to-back "all nighters" to produce. And have generally reasonable expectations of your associates. After all, they are humans, not robots. Humans need sleep, food, play and family. Speaking of which...
9). Value family. Divorces, breakups and unhappy kids mean less productive employees. Do everything possible to work legitimate work needs around legitimate family needs. Everyone needs family time. And don't pile loads of extra work on the singles, either. They need time with others just as much as the family folks do.
10). Balance profit with a caring, moral workplace. American businesses often pursue profit regardless of the cost. Profit is necessary, but must be balanced with a workplace that treats people as people and operates with morality and integrity. Take the high road, and you will find you will succeed.
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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.