We often hear today, that our current workforce “doesn’t have the work ethic” of prior generations. I’d like to challenge that sentiment. Here’s why. If you look back in history, you will see that our country has been transformed to what it is today through the Industrial Revolution and then the Information Age. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, workers were skilled tradesmen who worked independently. As we moved through the Industrial Revolution, we had the rise and fall of the “blue collar” worker who was considered semi-skilled and a cog in a bigger production wheel. As we have moved into the Information Age, we have moved to an educated work force and have seen the rise of predominately white collar, service based jobs focused. So as our economy has morphed into something new, why aren’t we surprised that worker expectations would change also?
I’d like to go back to work ethic. I’m not sure that we are comparing apples to apples. Let’s look at this. In previous generations, there was often a direct correlation of work effort to a promise of future benefit. Families were often supported by a single income and employees would work at a company for 25 years for the retirement benefits. Those days are long gone. They have been replaced by dual income families who are trying to juggle it all and navigate the path to retirement.
Our current workforce is not lazy, they are educated and informed. They are well aware that there are no guarantees as there were in the years before and that the safety nets are disappearing beneath them. For every IT employee who made it big on stock options, there are thousands who did not. Employees are often bumping into an invisible income barrier that is only overcome by changing jobs. Employees today have no choice but to make changes that balance both personal and professional lives to the best of their ability.
So what are employees really looking for?
At Agile, we haven’t had any candidates turning down a job because they couldn’t telecommute 100% of the time. What they do want is enough flexibility in their schedule to balance their work life and personal life and the unexpected surprises that often come with that juggling act.
TRUST & AUTONOMY.
Employees want you to trust them to do the job they were hired to do. Whether it is when you extend flexibility or assign a new project, you have to extend trust to reap the reward of increased productivity. Set clear expectations and boundaries and then let them use the skills and education that you are paying for.
TO BE VALUED
Employees want to be valued for their contribution. In a service focused economy, they want to feel part of the team and feel pride in both the Company that they work for and the product or service that they provide. With IT unemployment well below the national average, if you can’t provide it that feeling of value, another company probably can.
JobScience.com just recently posted a survey showing 66% of companies surveyed report the cost of a bad hire is between $25,000 and $50,000. Ouch! Employers should be having open discussions with candidates on the topics above to ascertain whether they are a good cultural fit for the organization. Determine what flexibility and trust look like in your organization and your management style; be prepared to give examples. Hiring the right person up front is worth every minute invested. The cost of a bad hire is always more than expected!