Employees are the most precious resource in law firms, engineering firms, hospitals and all other professional service organizations. Professionals are paid well, and value their paycheck. Yet, just paying your employees well is not sufficient to keep them happy. As study after study has shown, employees who feel valued perform better and stick around longer. How can you make your employees feel valued? Allow them to innovate!
Employees as the most important asset
It makes sense to make your employees valued, if they are the most important asset of the organization. Employees who feel valued work harder, are more productive and stay longer.
How important are employees to your organization? Are they worth investing in, or will they walk away in a few years anyway?
From Forbes: “As managers and leaders it’s our job to drop the assumptions and change our tune about how we recognize and develop employees. If we do our job right, employees are not short-term fixtures, but instead potential life-long contributors. Whether it’s 1 month, 1 year, 10 years or 30 years, one thing is clear—people primarily leave jobs for one simple reason. When employees were asked why they quit their job, 79% reported “a lack of appreciation” as the key reason for leaving. As leaders, it’s time we stop pointing the finger at employees for their so-called ‘lack of commitment.’ It’s time to stop talking about the good ol’ days when people wanted to stay with one company (because 25 years ago, people didn’t stay as long). And, if we want to point fingers at why people leave companies, we need to focus on the real reason people are leaving—they don’t feel appreciated.”
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm that employees are indeed loyal, especially in the professional services. “Among the major occupations, workers in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median tenure (5.1 years) in January 2016. Within this group, employees with jobs in management occupations (6.3 years), architecture and engineering occupations (5.5 years), and legal occupations (5.5 years) had the longest tenure.”
Forbes is right, that the solution to keep employees even longer is in making them feel appreciated and valued.
So what makes employees feel appreciated and valued?
By the way, if you wonder what the difference is between being appreciated and valued: “My husband might get up in the morning before me, and bring me a cup of tea in bed. This is something I appreciate, and feel rather grateful for. But I do not value him because he brings me tea. I value him because he is a thoughtful person, and my life is better with him in it.”
Below is a graph with the top 5 factors that contribute to job satisfaction, from a list of 32 mentioned as “very important” in a report on employee job satisfaction and engagement by the Society for Human Resource Management. These results are based on a survey among 500 employees. The top green bar stands for “very important”, the bottom green bar for “very satisfied”.
Respectful treatment of all employees is at number 1.
Respectful treatment of all employees scores highest, and is ranked as the number one contributor to job satisfaction.
Ranked second, third and fourth are compensation, benefits, and job security. Your employees have chosen to be employees and not entrepreneurs for a reason! Your job has to bring food on the table today and tomorrow.
Trust and opportunities come in on number 5. So clearly these are important factors too. Yet, so very intangible. What does that mean in the workplace? The report gives a hint:
“Millennials are looking to create outcomes within meaningful projects; developing a bond with these employees and showing confidence that they can accomplish objectives will help keep them engaged and hold them accountable in achieving set goals. “
As manager, you may still wonder what that means. As innovation expert, I see great opportunity in the sentence above – as innovation projects are the perfect vehicle to provide opportunities and build trust.
How can innovation make employees feel valued?
One great side-benefit from innovation efforts is that it makes the involved employees feel valued. Since it allows employees to demonstrate their abilities and skills and show the organization what they are truly capable of. In addition, successful innovation activities contribute to the profitability and sustainability of the organization.
However, the opposite is equally true. Without providing the proper support, innovation quickly becomes a source of utter frustration and a leading cause for your most talented employees to leave.
That is among others, why having an unstructured approach to innovation does not work. It does not deliver results and it is utterly frustrating for innovation champions. While with some guidance, innovation activities can be truly rewarding, even unsuccessful attempts.
For more on how to provide such guidance, see our next blog!