Happiness Counts?Big Time!
The new catchword in organizations is "engagement." All the research organizations are publishing similar stats: Workers aren't happy, and they will vote with their feet if things don't change! The Society of Human Resource Planners said 8 out of 10 of your employees will jump ship when the economy lights come back on. Ouch! Savvy organizations will spend time, money, and resources on this issue. And the savviest of the savvy will hold managers accountable. Companies that can increase engagement will gain a competitive edge over those who can't.
Boomers are Bailing.
Warning: Baby Boomers are getting ready to retire, and there aren't enough people to replace them. Can you keep them a little while longer? Get creative and find ways to hang on to your senior workers. Give them new learning opportunities, exciting projects, and mentoring responsibilities. Offer phased retirement. And remember to mine their knowledge before they go.
Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.
The mantra of the emerging workforce is, "Develop me or I'm history." They're building their portfolios and beefing up their resumes. It may seem counterintuitive, but helping them grow will help you keep them. Teach your managers to hold development conversations with their employees and teach employees how to hold up their end of those conversations.
Flex It or Fergit It!
Workers want more freedom and flexibility, and they expect their managers to link arm in arm with them to find ways of making work, well, work. The degree to which you can give them elbow room and flexibility will predict how long you'll keep them.
How "Gen-Friendly" Are You?
Close those generation gaps. Never before have you had four generations sharing your workspace. It's time to devote a little attention to the unique challenges and wants of each group. Help them understand each other and you'll increase satisfaction and productivity at work.
New Possibilities Lure Your Talent.
New employment options will again attract your best people. It's not just your competitors who will go after your top talent. Free agency calls. CNN Money said 1.1 million people are working for themselves since 2003. If you can't offer what they want, they'll look for contract, temporary, consulting, or freelance work — or they'll start their own businesses.
Employee-Centric Workplaces Return.
It's a supply/demand issue, and the supply is rapidly diminishing. You won't be able to say, "Quit whining and be glad you have a job." Instead, you'll once again be stealing talent from your neighbors and asking your stars, "What will it take to keep you here?" Start now. Use "stay interviews" instead of exit interviews.
It's More Than Pay That Makes Them Stay.
Reward is more than a paycheck. OK, so this isn't really new. But it is more pronounced. Total reward systems will expand, and your creativity will be tested. The key will be mass customization. Find out what each talented employee wants. What does reward mean to each person on your team? Then find a way to give it.
Manager's span of control will increase. If the demographics are right, managerial positions will increase by 25% over the next decade, but there will be a 15% decline in 25-44 year olds in the market. And you thought 10 direct reports was a heavy load? We heard of one manager who has 57 direct reports! To succeed you'll have to empower employees (yes, the old "e" word again) to take care of their own workplace satisfaction. Beware, many don't know how! Be ready to teach 'em!
Kinder, Gentler Workplaces Win.
Sounds soft, huh? Well, it's a reality. Your workers want you to care about them, not just as workers, but as human beings. They expect you to respect their time, their skills, and their unique talents — and to use them well. They want that now, and they will demand it tomorrow.
Sharon Jordan-Evans and Beverly Kaye co-wrote Love 'Em or Lose 'Em and contribute to Fast Company's Talent & Careers resource center.
A version of this article appeared in the November 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.