Hard to believe but the reputation of the workplace has gotten tougher. The Corporate Leadership Council found that employees’ jobs have expanded by a third since the recession. And The Hay Group reports in their survey that two-thirds of workers say they have been putting in unpaid overtime. That is to be expected since everyone doubled and tripled up as the economy spun out of control and job freezes set in. The Hay Group goes on to report that 63% of workers think their employers do not appreciate their extra work and 57% feel like they are disposable as far as their employers are concerned. And alarmingly, one-half of workers don’t think they can keep up their onerous workloads like they have anymore. Last night I was speaking to someone who told me exactly that after working seven days a week,11 hours per day. He said he just told his boss that he could not keep it up anymore. What did his boss say? Go get yourself some help which he did. Impressive. Wonder if all it takes is asking?
What can employers do to boost their reputations as kind and caring? A few suggestions appeared in an article in The Economist. Cap Gemini has a golden awards program where people are publicly thanked every six months for their work. They also give people blackberry type devices to use while traveling to help them get their jobs done while on the road. Thoughtful. Flexible hours is another favorite employer reputation enhancement that some companies use. I never had flexible hours early in my career but sure wish I had the option since I would have used it well. And the other strategy for building a strong workplace reputation is paying attention to the high-potentials like HP does. HP invites rising stars to important strategy meetings and asks them for suggestions.
All of these ways of recognizing employees cost employers next to nothing but make their employees more loyal and more likely to put in the extra time to come up with new ideas to grow the company.
When employees start leaving their jobs for better ones as soon as the economy picks up, employers will have to get creative about retaining employees and letting up on the workload once again. But there are plenty of inexpensive ways to improve workplace reputation and there is no better time than now when employees are on the fence about leaving or staying at their jobs. It is a good reminder to us all that recognition goes far and costs next to nothing. This is probably the real ROI everyone is always asking about.