Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

Part 1 - The Secret Untold

In today's tight labor market, organizations are desperately trying to retain valuable employees. Cash bonuses, stock options, and pay increases are commonly used to entice employees to stay, but are only marginally effective.

The SECRET for maintaining a committed workforce is revealed below:

  1. When I conduct employee opinion surveys, I typically begin the process by conducting on-site focus groups to learn what's on employees' minds. Often, the 8-10 employees in the group spend the bulk of our time together complaining about their supervisors, their pay, and a multitude of perceived inefficiencies. After about 45 minutes of this griping, I ask them: "You've all said so many negative things about your organization . . . why on earth do you still work here?"

    Always, there is a long, reflective silence followed by the following words:

    "The reason we stay here is THE PEOPLE; we like the people we work with."

  2. I also conduct seminars for employees who have recently lost their jobs due to layoffs. When I ask them what they will miss most about their job other than the pay and benefits, always, their first response is: THE PEOPLE. They say, "we will miss the people we worked with."

    It is very difficult to motivate employees that would prefer to be somewhere else.

Part 3 - How Employers Can Use this Knowledge

Since "the people" is what binds employees to their organizations, employers should focus on creating environments that enable employees to interact more. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Avoid the cyber-disease, "emailitis," whereby employees stay glued to their computers all day and communicate with coworkers primarily by email. Discourage overuse of email.

  2. Get people out of those cubicles. It is not uncommon for employees to work the entire day without engaging in a single real conversation with anyone in-person or via the telephone. Encourage more face to face meetings and group projects.

  3. Encourage social interaction. Set up tables near your coffee pot so that people can schmooze while they recharge, encourage employees to eat lunch together, call meetings at the beginning and end of the workday to help get everyone on the same page, encourage walking around and socializing, push your socially isolated employees into social situations, and arrange social gatherings just for the fun of it.

These suggestions, which skeptics could easily view as inefficient time wasters, will help bind employees to your organization in ways that a bonus or pay increase never can.

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