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Why Will People Work For You? - If You Don't Have a Good Answer You Are At Risk

Aug 17, 2007
When things are ticking along nicely it is easy to take our people for granted. It is useful to stop sometimes and ask why people will work for us. If we can't come up with clear answers then we should start working on some good reasons.

If the answer is "they probably can't find a job elsewhere" then we are probably not operating at our best!

It may be that people like the work, the flexible hours, the pay, the people they work with or a whole range of other factors.

Many answers may spring to mind and the real reason may be a combination or two or more.

In your business, if you can only find one reason people will work for you, or have trouble even doing this, you are very exposed.

While most people have to work to survive, in most places people have a choice of what they do. Once a level of income can be reached that sustains them, they start to look for other aspects of work that make life enjoyable, or at least reduces the hardships.

If you can provide enough of these attractive elements in a job it will help with recruiting and keeping people. The remaining issue then is to make sure they are performing the job you want them to do.

The book "First, Break all the Rules" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman is based on very extensive research undertaken by the Gallop Organization over 25 years covering over a million employees and 80,000 managers.

After considerable analysis, which included identifying who the "excellent" managers were, the authors found the strength of a workplace can be simplified to 12 questions that capture the most information and the most important information.

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Further evidence is provided by the Frank Russell Company which compared the "100 Best Companies to Work for" in 2004 to a Standard and Poor 500 portfolio in the same year. Through 2003, the "100 Best Companies to Work for" stocks grew at almost three times the rate of those in the S & P 500 portfolio.

Maybe not all jobs, or workplaces, can provide all the attributes listed above all the time but by being a bit creative and listening to what people want, it is usually possible to make a job, or a workplace a positive experience.

The key to maintaining the positive aspects of a workplace is to build these elements into systems and processes and ensure your line managers know how important their roles are in doing this.

If the jobs are interesting and challenging, and the supervision competent, make sure you regularly check that they remain so.

If the pay is good, make sure it is reviewed regularly to maintain the right level.

If the training and careers aspects are attractive, have a regular review process to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your people.

If people are motivated and rewarded through recognition, ensure that all supervisors handle this constructively, fairly and consistently.

Are your employees your best advocates? Do they tell people they meet this is a great place to work? If not, why not? If they do, what do you need to keep doing?
About the Author
Paul Phillips is a Director of Horizon Management Group; a specialist human resource management consulting firm. He has over 30 years experience in HR and, while based in Australia, has worked in a number of overseas locations. www.horizonmg.com
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