On May 1, 2019 SobelCo presented its annual Employee Benefit Symposium. The theme for this year’s event focused on the evolving workforce and the impact of employees on the workplace of today and tomorrow. The high profile panel consisting of Heather Sperduto, ADP, David Sytsma, UBS and Patrick Carragher, NPPG,   was selected because of their unique focus on, and experiences with, the re-shaping of the modern work environment.  The basis for the discussion began with a review of why employees leave, and as importantly, why employees stay, at their companies. Surveys conducted by Harvard Business Review, Glass Door, The Conference Board and Career Builder report that the top reasons for employees to leave their current positions include: a negative work environment, high stress and pressure, a lack of challenge or engagement, and a lack of recognition and benefits. Most business owners and “C suite” leaders assume that employees grow dissatisfied over their salaries, but the responses do not back that up. Further, the list of four top reasons employees remain at their current place of employment also is not focused on salary. Instead, employees stay jn place because they feel appreciated, engage with helpful mentors, are assigned challenging tasks that lead to advancement, are exposed to learning, and receive appropriate compensation and benefits.

The smart employers who want to identify, recruit and retain the best and brightest employees already know this. So instead of focusing primarily on salary, they are working hard to create a culture where employees feel heard and valued.  When 79% of those responding to a survey indicate that they left their job because they did not feel appreciated and 53% say they are unhappy work, it is a wake-up call for everyone and anyone in a leadership role to pay attention to what employees really care about.   

You do not want to be a statistic – so what can you do about it? 33% of the employees responding said they intend to quit their job in the next 12 months. That is a staggering number. Given the reality of the situation - how do you hold onto your workforce and maximize your investment in your people?

Technology changes everything

A combination of face-to-face meetings, educational seminars for small groups, and the use of amazing technology tools is one way that forward thinking firms are addressing their employees’ most critical concerns.  ADP’s Heather Sperduto shared a software-supported process that enables her to check in with her team on a weekly basis, posing three key questions to them all: “Last week, what did you loathe? What did you love? How can I help?” The valuable data gathered from her teammates when they reply to these three questions provides her with confidential insights into their needs – and enables her to address their concerns in real time.  But it is more than just a convenient and consistent survey delivered via an app – it is a process. It is a commitment by the company to care about its people. It is about giving employees the ability to work with leaders who engage in active listening – and responding. And ultimately this is what matters most to the employees.

The ‘gig” economy is disrupting infrastructure

If you are an Uber drive, when a rider exits your vehicle, the charge for the fees is paid immediately through a credit card transfer. Yet traditional employees are typically paid, not when they complete a task, but at the end of the established pay period. This may change as more independent workers go out on their own, taking roles as ride share drivers, consultants and other independent contractors in numbers never before imagined. Flexible schedules, independence and other advantages are driving this change and will ultimately exert an influence on the more traditional jobs.    

Whether it is unlimited Personal Time Off, flexible hours, exciting engagements, exposure to industry experts, or a hot line that enables everyone to be heard, employees are making new demands and are acting as a catalyst for change.