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Friday, November 18, 2011

Tuning in to Employees’ Top Priorities

Despite workplace pressures and slow growth for compensation, greater opportunity for career advancement is the number one priority sought by employees in their next position. Right Management polled 561 North American workers via an online survey and asked:

What is your highest priority in your next position?
  • 27% Greater opportunity for advancement
  • 21% Better management team
  • 21% More flexible work environment
  • 17% Better compensation
  • 14% Less work pressure

We posed a classic question to today’s workers, what they’re really looking for in their next job. We wondered if higher comp would top the list, or perhaps less workplace stress, but we found that opportunity for advancement is number one. That tells us that despite all the workplace complaints we hear most employees are still highly motivated about their own development and careers.

Higher compensation and less work pressure trailed other concerns including quality of management. The second highest priority among respondents is a better management team, which may mean either more competent leaders or more considerate bosses, a finding that’s common in a workplace poll such as this. This is a variant of the truism that people quit their bosses, not their companies, and it’s a key lesson for all organizations when there’s strong competition to attract and retain quality talent.

But senior management’s main interest ought to be how to engage employees during a weak economy. The most recent Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is for continued sluggish hiring across most industries. Employee turnover has been remarkably slow for the past two years, and everyone is itching for new horizons. In fact, many workers feel trapped in their current situation. Now that’s bad for everyone concerned and the savvy employer will make strenuous efforts to vary people’s tasks and responsibilities, to shuffle work teams, to do cross-team training…to do whatever is needed to demonstrate real commitment to career development and to counter a pervasive sense of career stagnation among their employees.

Some organizations are surely on top of the problem, but I’m afraid too many aren’t. Are you tuned in to what your employees want from you most?

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