Feeling valued?

A recent survey conducted by The Ladders.co.uk revealed amongst other interesting statistics, that 63% of employees in the UK feel that companies don’t care about them!

Now it may be that the 63% have got it wrong and in fact their employers do care about them but that is not the point. The point is, it doesn’t matter what the survey says, it is what the 63% believe to be true because this will determine their attitude towards their jobs and their employers. This is clearly a distressing statistic and, if true could have devastating implications for their company’s futures.

I meet a lot of people who work for large corporations who have similar negative beliefs about the firms they work for. One client told me only this week that he works such long hours during the week that he has to sleep for many hours at the weekend in order to be refreshed again for Monday morning. This means of course that he has little time with his wife and young children and this in turn is having a negative impact on their relationship. He went on to tell me that if he did not put in this amount of effort at work he would be seen by his boss as uncommitted. Again recently, a friend told me about his daughter who worked for a well known global brand who was expected to be in the office from 8 in the morning till often late into the evening. Apparently her boss, a senior manager, would often call meetings at 9 or 10 p.m. resulting in my friend’s daughter arriving home at after midnight. Again, this was a case of the rule, not the exception.

I don’t know if the Ladders survey has hit on a truth or not but what I do know is, there are companies out there that either knowingly or unknowingly, take unfair advantage of their people. Yet, it doesn’t take the brain of Einstein to figure out that unhappy or dissatisfied staff do not perform anywhere near to their potential. If an individual or team is performing at say 50% of their potential, how much creativity and productivity is being lost? Employee motivation is not rocket science. According to psychologist and motivational experts, there are some pretty simple steps that can be taken in order to keep people satisfied in their work. These are simple things like showing them respect; treating them as individuals, involving them in the business, ensuring that they understand their company’s vision and goals, giving them ownership but most important of all in my opinion, treating them like human beings and not cannon fodder!

My many years experience working with many companies, large and small has taught me that when people are treated fairly, given clear and achievable goals to achieve, treated as valuable members of the team and treated with respect, they perform better than those that are not. I have seen individuals and teams who work long and hard not because they are told to or because they fear for their jobs but because they want to. In fact, one such company I know of will discipline their people for staying too late in the office or for taking work home on a regular basis. They are treated fairly and are encouraged to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the future of the company. As you might imagine, these people are highly motivated and work extremely hard because they respect the fact that they are treated well. They believe that the company they work for care about them and this is repaid a thousand times through their commitment, their loyalty and their productivity.

We live in uncertain times and as the financial crisis deepens, companies are likely to put even more pressure on their people, working them harder and even reducing headcount. These measures, unless handled carefully and sensitively, will cause even more fear and deterioration to employee morale. However, I would suggest that this is a great time for companies to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty out there. It is, in my opinion, a good time for companies to invest more in their people; train them better, support them more and show them that they are actually important to the company’s future. Naturally there may be staff who just do not fit in or are not prepared to do their bit but for the rest, well, they need looking after. Behaviour begets behaviour; treat people well and they will return will treat their company and, more importantly, the company’s customers well.

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