Are your employees feeling the love?

Where employers are coming up short

By Claudine Kapel

When it comes to managing total rewards, there’s generally a major emphasis on getting the facts and numbers right.

And that’s to be expected. Your organization’s total rewards offering represents a significant expenditure that needs to be thoughtfully managed. That means analyzing a multitude of data points, including program costs, program utilization levels, hiring and turnover statistics, market trends and practices, economic forecasts, unfunded liabilities, and where you stand relative to your various budgets.

But it’s also important to consider how employees feel about working for your organization. Do they have an emotional connection to the organization? Are they proud to work there? Are they engaged by what the organization stands for and what it has to offer?

While the transactional elements of your total rewards package — such as pay and benefits — are critically important, they are also the most easily replicated by another employer.

So the relational aspects of the employment deal are critical as well – and vital to your ability to retain talent and achieve high levels of performance. Ultimately, an effective talent strategy is about engaging minds and hearts.

A recent survey by Virgin Pulse, however, suggests that while employees are generally positive about their employers, they’re not really feeling the love in return. The survey results reflect responses from more than 1,000 full-time employees in the United States.

Nearly 75 per cent of respondents said they either “love” their company because it’s a great place to work or felt “pretty good” with no major complaints.

Only 25 per cent of respondents, however, felt their company really values them and shows it often, while 41 per cent said they get only occasional recognition.

Meanwhile, 29 per cent said their employer only passes a compliment along every now and then, and five per cent said their employer didn’t know they existed.

When asked what makes them most passionate about their employer, the top three factors included:

  • They feel they’re making a difference.
  • They’re doing interesting and challenging work.
  • They have a flexible work schedule.

Only seven per cent cited their income as the reason they’re passionate about their company. However, while compensation wouldn’t make employees like their jobs any better, 32 per cent said it’s the most important way an employer can show they care.

When asked what they wished their employers cared more about, 44 per cent said they wished their employer cared more about their financial wellbeing. Other areas where respondents wanted more employer attention included:

  • Career development (40 per cent).
  • Work/life balance (39 per cent).
  • Emotional health (35 per cent).
  • Overall well-being and quality of life (29 per cent).

“Employees like the companies they work for, but there’s room for improvement on the employer-side of the relationship,” says Virgin. “Showing employees you care can yield big benefits when it comes to employee engagement and loyalty.”

Notes Virgin: “The key is to create a culture where employees feel appreciated and supported across all aspects of their lives, while simultaneously making them feel they’re a part of something exciting and challenging.”

The Virgin research offers some kernels of wisdom that can help your organization forge stronger connections with employees. While it may not be possible to deliver on every item on employees’ wish list, the key themes around appreciation, meaningful work, and flexibility represent a powerful foundation for productive and sustainable employee relationships.

And yes, compensation is in there as well. While it may not necessarily serve as a source of inspiration, delivering fair and competitive compensation is still part of showing the love.

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Claudine Kapel

Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a human resources consulting firm specializing in compensation design, performance management, and employee communications. Claudine is also the co-author of The HR Manager’s Guide to Total Rewards and Straight Talk on Managing Human Resources.
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