Here’s a sad state of affairs. I’m at SHRM this week and preparing for my session on the Power of Thanks. I’m excited about the session and further sharing of what I am personally and professionally quite passionate about – the ability to choose our own attitude and influence that of others through simple (if specific) expressions of appreciation, praise and recognition.
And yet, I have mulling around in my mind a story recently told me by a member of my team. On a shared commute into work with her husband, the topic of conversation turned to seizing opportunity when offered. My teammate offered her position that any time an opportunity to contribute, learn, grow or do is given, she leaps to take it on. Her husband responded, almost without thinking, “Yeah, that makes sense when you actually trust your company to do the right thing.”
Then, catching himself, he said, “Wow. Did I really just say that?” His wife pressed, “What do you mean?”
He replied, “Well, for example, when Bob was offered a role with more responsibility, he was moved up from hourly (and the associated time-and-a-half) and put on monthly, which doesn’t have that. Yet he knew he’d be working more hours on average anyway. The company promised they’d do right by him. That was four years ago. He’s still waiting. So, no, I don’t trust leadership to do the right thing. So why would I seize opportunity when offered or go out on a limb for them?”
That is the definition of employee disengagement – someone who is capable of doing more, but choosing not to because they see no reason or motivation to do so. And lack of trust in and respect leadership is a clear marker for increased disengagement. It’s also a strong marker for recruiting and retention.
This story reminded me research out of the UK. A Business in the Community (BITC) survey assessed adult views on business behavior, finding that “the perception of a company being a good employer had a significant impact on whether someone wanted to work for it - 92% of respondents said that, if they were in a situation where they had two identical job offers, whether the companies treated employees with respect would be an important part of their decision making.”
It’s particularly interesting to me that how a company treats employees was the top ranking reason impacting perception of the company as a good employer, beating out whether they treated customers well (90%) and whether they made safe and reliable products and services (89%)
People choose to work for your organization or not based on your reputation. BITC Chief Executive Stephen Howard commented:
“It’s clear that the outdated idea of responsible business as being about giving cash or ad hoc CSR activity is over. While these things do have positive impacts, there is far more to being a good business then simple philanthropy and the public and employees know this. To be perceived as responsible a business must be authentic and have values that influence everything it does – from how it treats employees and uses natural resources to how it operates within the community and down their supply chains.”
Of course, people also make employment decisions based on fair and valid compensation, benefits and Total Rewards packages. But your reputation for trust and respect are equally powerful (if not more so).
What’s the public perception of your organization? Do you have a strong, positive reputation for how employees are treated?
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.