Sunday 27 May 2018

The right moves: Employers must realise investing in employee goodwill pays dividends

Paul McNeive
Paul McNeive

Paul McNeive

A RECENT chat with some senior estate agents, and this week's news stories of heroic efforts by people to overcome the weather and get their jobs done, reminded me of something that many employers forget; the importance of building goodwill among your employees.

The estate agents were bemoaning the return of aggressive attempts by competitors to poach their staff, and how that would inevitably lead to having to increase their staff's pay. I offered my view that pay was probably one of the last things their employees had on their minds.

Twenty eight years as an estate agent, both as an employee and employer, taught me that salary is not the main motivator for me, but it's interesting to see the disconnect between employers and employees.

A new study by business specialists Mindflash.com caught my eye. They asked a group of employers and employees the same question; 'What do you believe employees want most from their jobs?'

The top five ranked responses from employers were: (1) good wages (2) job security (3) promotion opportunities (4) good working conditions and (5) interesting work.

The employee responses meanwhile were: (1) full appreciation for work done (2) feeling 'in' on things (3) sympathetic help with personal problems (4) job security and (5) good wages.

It's easy to see the problem here - and the opportunity. In fact, money ranks fifth in most surveys of what employees value most.

So, employers are in a dangerous situation if they believe that the happiness and goodwill of their staff can be bought.

The problem is that as we get older and busier, we forget the importance of these home truths.

Employers, under relentless pressure to succeed, rush from deal to deal, and spend less time nurturing staff.

Disaffected employees are either lost, or are retained by a salary hike or bonus.

The irony, and the opportunity, is that it is the intangibles, which cost little or no money, that matter most to your staff.

Employers should be consistently praising and developing their staff, and helping them out by being flexible when personal problems arise.

Everyone should know something about what the organisation is striving to achieve.

Everyone needs to feel part of something, and that their work counts for something.

The upside is that, apart from having a team firing on all cylinders, at times of crisis, your staff will go to great lengths to help out. An example of how this works in reverse was the Ryanair rostering debacle. Management had made a mess of pilot rostering and needed the pilots to co-operate in changing holiday times and working different shifts to solve the crisis.

Instead, however, the pilots saw a long-awaited opportunity to take revenge on a management that many of them felt had disrespected them for years.

They forced concessions which will cost Ryanair multiples of what it would have done to have fostered better relations with their pilots in the first place.

If you can get this appreciative and inclusive culture right, your staff won't leave for 10pc or 20pc more money - half of which they lose in tax anyway.

Indeed, top staff will be attracted to you, because they will hear what a great firm you are to work with.

Staff will work harder for you, in direct proportion to how much they like you.

Invest time in building staff goodwill.

Men's Shed Movement Gathers Pace

I HAD noticed that the 'Men's Shed' movement has an appeal to property developers, perhaps because the idea starts with finding a site and building a shed. Men's Sheds were borne of the economic collapse and the idea is that the shed becomes a place for men to gather, socialise and work together. All of this helps to combat isolation and contributes greatly to health and wellbeing.

Last week, the renowned developer and investor, Jimmy Carroll, took me to see a number of new projects he has undertaken, and his enthusiasm peaked when we ended our tour at the Newtown and Newcastle Men's Shed. The Shed operates from a building and site made available by Mr Carroll to local men at Killadreenan, Co Wicklow.

A workshop has been built, from where the 50 or so members do small building work for local charitable causes, a band has been formed, and meals are served using produce from the vegetable gardens and the Shed's hens.

It's a friendly and uplifting place to visit.

There are now more than 400 Men's Sheds in Ireland and for more information, or to donate, visit menssheds.ie.

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