A lot has been written about employee satisfaction and becoming the employer of choice. Companies are creating the most unbelievable programs in order to make sure their employees are happy and therefore likely to stay. By doing this, they don’t only concentrate on talent development and career management. Companies are rather busy with making the office an incredible place. Entertainment, comfort, health and wellness programs, personal services and so on. Nothing is too crazy to think about, nothing too expensive to not at least try. In the end it has become a kind of competition among the most famous employers of our times. HR departments are doing everything to place their companies in the highest rankings of the well-known annual employer awards and business strategies are not only looking at how to grow the company and make it a successful organization, but especially how to create the best reputation as an employer.
In the meanwhile it is clear to everyone that Talent Acquisition has a lot to do with marketing these days. The competition for the best talent has started many years ago, but the tools have changed. Where we have been looking at compensation and benefits mainly in the past, today the factor of comfort and coziness is the main one. But is it really employee satisfaction that we should be doing all this for? Think twice… What benefit do we have from an employee that is happy, but not really functioning to our satisfaction…? Ouch!
“We need to focus on employee engagement
rather than employee satisfaction…”
Typically we assume that a happy employee is a successful employee. That might not necessarily be right. Some employees are happy but still not performing well. Or they are satisfied in general but as soon as they get an interesting job offer with another company that is doing everything for their employee’s satisfaction the person might be gone quicker than you would believe… So we should rather look for circumstances that make an employee not only happy, but engaged with the company, the team and his/her job.
In order to find out what the young working generation is looking for I recently did a little survey among students and young professionals. The questions was simple: “Why would you stay with your employer although you got a better job offer from another company?” The definition for ‘better job offer’ was left open, but most of the respondents assumed it would be about better compensation, an employer with a better reputation or a promotion to the next level. This survey was far from being representative, but the interesting thing about the mostly common answers was, that they are indeed looking for the happiness and coziness factor that many companies try to create. But their expectations are totally different from what is offered today. Recent programs obviously match the satisfaction part, but not the engagement part.
“The young generation wants companies
to be organized in a totally different way…”
Drilling deeper in what the expectations are, we got a lot of answers with regard to the organisational structure of companies and the company culture as such. Young people are looking for organisations with inspiring colleagues and big teams to work with. They all want to have an important and meaningful task. They all want to be involved in important decisions and they want to contribute to something great. What do they not want? Hierarchies! Bossy managers! Stupid routine work! For them the most important thing is to be part of a nice team and to be appreciated for what they do. And this is clearly on the emotional rather than on the monetary level. Appreciation for them means being told that they do their job well, being asked for their opinion, being involved in decision making processes and so on. Furthermore they don’t see the need for many layers of management. They prefer one manager that they like and appreciate for what he/she does. The question about who they would chose as a good manager was answered with: “The one that cares for us and inspires us!”
For this generation success and satisfaction is defined differently. It is not about a company being successful, a manager leading the team to the best possible result or a steep career within a company. It is about the ‘we’ factor: We achieve something together. We make the world a better place. We like and appreciate each other. We are family…
So this was an interesting exercise and it is an important lesson. Keep it in mind while building your organization for the future…