Case What is it that employees really want? Get the - easy - secret for retaining.

What is it that employees really want? Get the - easy - secret for retaining.

Employee expectations have evolved over the years to such an extent that today it is quite a challenge for enterprises to meet them all. Employers are constantly confronted with all kinds of suggestions to keep their employees satisfied and motivated. But in order to retain top talent, it is above all important to understand what employees really expect in the first place. For a long time, it was assumed that a competitive salary and favourable terms of employment would guarantee employees' loyalty to the organisation. But this situation has changed.

We wrote for Bloovi - a  Belgian platform for the digital industry, our findings and the insights after the annual HR Expo & Summit in Dubai.

“Be aware of big promises in HR!” A clear statement from Dr David S. Cohen. For the second year in a row, I hear him speak and again he has made an impression. Dr David S. Cohen is the author of several books on the HR domain, such as The Talent Edge and Inside the Box. He works with executive teams to help them facilitate conversations designed to improve the understanding of values through the articulation of behaviour.

Values’, let’s keep this term in mind for a moment. I’ve covered this topic several times in my previous articles, and whenever there is a talk about technologies or HR strategies, I keep reminding others how important it is to preserve values. Values are important to ensure the human aspect, to define a vision and to plan for the future.

What is it that employees really want?

This year it came as no surprise to me that the importance of values was again the subject of many keynote speakers at the HR Summit Expo in Dubai this year. Only two years ago, HR summits focused on emerging technologies and their applications, last year it was a mix of technology and people, and this year it's all about the employee.

"What is it that they want?" If you think they are waiting for the latest technologies, such as tech-based health tools or real-time feedback received through apps and social media, I have to disappoint you. People still yearn for real personal contact and feedback. And surely they don't want to hear big promises. Simply because no big promises are possible, Dr David Cohen warned us. People know this, they sense it, and as a result, they will leave the company.

And that reminded me of all the empty promises I've heard recently, and coincidentally also within the HR sector. So is it typically for the HR industry, or is it just a human behaviour to make big promises, promises not possible to fulfil? It made me think about human behaviour, our needs and again … values in life.

Understanding technology

Even though we are surrounded by technology and almost forced to follow the hypes, every conference I’m attending, we continue to talk about the importance of values, communication and personal relationships.

As I already pointed out a year ago, we humans - and not just HR professionals - will not be replaced by robots and machines, more than ever before, we will be needed for our emotional qualities. The fact is that people need to hear this as a confirmation so that they can have confidence in the technology. If people don't understand the technology, they will not adopt it, and that's the challenge that many companies face in this rapidly changing digital world. 

The world is undergoing such rapid and unpredictable changes in terms of what is to come, with increasing interdependence in globally connected economies and societies, and with an excessively wide range of options and potential outcomes. Our multipolar world is described in one term as VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.

Although this term is not new in the field of HR, I heard it for the first time this year at an HR Summit. The term VUCA is gaining in popularity, especially to describe the different dimensions of our 'uncontrollable' world.

Recently, a CEO asked me what he was doing wrong. He spent a few hundred thousand euros on new technology and software for his organisation, but there was hardly a single person willing to apply it in any decent way. He told me that their last company party was a success, he danced on stage and screamed during his act that from Monday everyone had to use the new app and software. Unfortunately, there was little willingness among the employees to start using the new software. "But we had fun," he added ironically.

Sadly, for many organisations, this is a recognizable story. In many cases, a CEO is fiercely enthusiastic about integrating innovative technologies into his or her corporate culture but often forgets to ask about the opinions of employees who actually need to adopt it - before they invest a lot of money in it.

Assuming vs. Asking

How do you, as an employer, make the difference?
First of all, you need to know what it is that your people really want. A good start is to never assume that you know what your people want - but instead, a good start can be by just asking them. 

Employees these days want to hear feedback, feedback and again feedback.
Feedback is the foundation for their performance and development.

There are two reasons why people leave the company today:

  • they don't get a promotion, and this is seen as a lack of appreciation
  • they receive an inaccurate performance review and this causes frustration

According to OC Tanner research,
82 % of employees feel their supervisor doesn’t recognise
for what they do and 60 % say they are more
motivated by recognition than money.
Money is no longer a driver for staying in a company.

One thing is certain: don't wait for your employees to ask for feedback, because that will probably never happen.

A few tips

Giving people feedback on a regular basis is extremely important. These are some specific tips that can help you:

  • For each position in an organisation create a Job Description:

    - List each task in the Job Description, both the (technical) skills and behaviour required and essential to successfully achieve the specific goals you have set. 

    - Make a top 3 of the most important tasks that ensure the success of the company.

  • Set specific times during the year; ideally every three months, to monitor progress and what is going well or is not.

  • Define together the next milestones (in three months) to make progress towards the end of the year commitments.

  • Tell your team member regularly that he or she did a fantastic job!

Passion for People

Bosses need to learn how to overcome the barriers to recognition which will help them to become a servant leader. In this way, the capabilities of their employees will be fully developed and a dedicated team will be created that will deliver positive results. Let your people know that the success of your business is in their hands, without them, there is no business.

It’s all about people today. And believe me, this will never change! It’s not about data, it’s not about gold or oil. It’s about people. Employees will keep the company running.

Turn your performance management into flexible and agile management and move from the term talent management to people management as we are talking about people and not assets.

Trust me, it's still an exciting time to work in HR, as long as you do it with a passion for Human. Only then will you be an added value and you will get value in return.


Originally written for Bloovi, read the original article on their website


Written with the love for HR,

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