What does work owe you?

You put in a lot of time on your job.  You’re there early, and leave late and check email on the weekends.  Does your employer really owe you anything?  The sad answer is no.  However, smart employers realize that the way to recruit and keep talented people is to exceed their expectations and treat them as, well, people, not numbers on a balance sheet.

If you read Dan Lyon’s book on HubSpot you see a company that cons their people into believing that they are working for a “really cool” company and gives them free candy to keep them happy while at the same time throwing knives at them.  Well, employees are smarter than that and are seeking out meaningful work with employers who value them as a person.

There are a lot of excuses for the “HR approach to management” but the reality is that it costs next to nothing to show your employees that you do care about them.  One company I work with, for example, prohibits employees from using company email on weekends and while on vacation.  Another brings in local restaurants to serve gourmet lunches, three times a week and has free coffee bars throughout their facility.  While these initiatives may seem small, they pay huge dividends via employee satisfaction surveys.

HR managers are often measured on employee recruitment, but they are seldom critiqued on employee turnover.  One woman who was a rising star at her company left because her manager kept pushing more work on her while taking credit for her successes. When she resigned her boss offered up a substantial raise, but she said “even doubling my salary would not make me happier here”.

Millennials are changing the workplace because they want to feel that they are part of the solution, rather than just another person in a cube.  Managers need to be aware that little things, like taking an interest in employee development, can go a long way to strengthen the company-employee relationship.  However, companies need to create an environment where people want to grow with the company to be successful.

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