Thought you knew what your employees want? Think again.
While employees look for job security and salary, employers are under the impression that jobseekers are drawn to career advancement, and learning and development opportunities, says a study.
The 2014 Global Workforce Study by human resources (HR) consultancy Towers Watson also shows differing views on staying with the job. Employees are concerned about the daily commute, job security, retirement benefits, physical work environment, and healthcare and wellness benefits, while these aspects, according to the survey, are not even on the radar of employers.
“In the last two rounds of this survey, job security has come up as a top driver for attraction. It is too basic an area that it does not even come up for discussion. How many companies in their annual survey ask ‘do you feel secure in your role’? So, companies are either side-stepping the issue or it is a blind spot," says Ajith Nair, India practice leader of organizational surveys and insights at Towers Watson.
Sucharita Palepu, global head of people policies and practices at Tech Mahindra Ltd, feels job security may be what brings people to companies. “While it can be a factor for employees to be disengaged, I don’t think it is a top driver that attracts employees. We don’t want people joining us only because they think it is a secure place to work, but (because they) are excited by the challenges and opportunities that we provide," she says.
Palepu agrees with the survey finding that opportunities offered by a company attract and retain people.
Keeping employees engaged is also a big challenge, as firms run the risk of losing even highly engaged employees.
The study, conducted among 1,000 respondents in 150 companies in India, shows that HR practitioners need to have risks factored into talent pipelines, as 40% of even highly engaged employees may potentially leave in the next two years.
More than half of Indian employees surveyed report that excessive work load, inadequate staffing and unclear job expectations force even highly engaged workers to leave.
Palepu admits that programmes to keep employees engaged over the long term need to be current and relevant. Hence, at times, there could be a very low shelf-life for any programme, which would need periodic reinvention. “Employees today look for a high-degree of personalization, so the range of what we offer needs to increase, and this gets complex as organizations become larger," says Palepu of Tech Mahindra, which has 96,000 employees.
What keeps employees engaged, according to the study, are goals, empowerment, image of the organization and performance management. The study says 66% employees feel highly engaged at work.
“Deeper and broader interaction with the employees has never been more critical than it is today. Activities such as job rotations, workshops, transformation projects or training keeps employees engaged," says Richa Tripathi, chief HR officer at Tata Teleservices Ltd, which has 8,000 employees.
Nair of Towers Watson feels that dissonance between employees and employers exists because right now, employers are not listening closely enough. “Employers need to have a more holistic and a more granular listening approach. Sometimes, a lot of information is collected but no one responds or listens to people," he says.
He also believes firms have a one-size-fits-all approach for retention and engagement. “The efforts needed for both are completely different, and we don’t see that clarity in companies," Nair adds.