Human Resources

Do you have motivated, loyal employees?

One of the most fatal assumptions an entrepreneur can make is that money is the sole motivator of employee performance and loyalty. That notion, especially in the Okanagan, is simply incorrect.

A while back, I had occasion to review a confidential survey that collected primary employee research to identify the critical employee satisfaction and retention issues facing companies located the Okanagan. I have permission to share the highlights, which highlighted some areas that all employers in the Okanagan should take very seriously.

The survey disclosed that employee turnover in the Okanagan is extremely low. In fact, compared to the province as a whole, the Okanagan has the lowest employee turnover in the province. Even if employees do leave a company, over 82% relocate within the Okanagan. Let’s face it, individuals that relocate to the Okanagan are seeking a better life than they had elsewhere. Relocation, including my own, is primarily lifestyle driven.

So why should companies care about employee satisfaction and retention? The sad fact is this – over 73% of employees surveyed felt that their employer could care less if they left. WOW!

Employees are feeling overworked, under appreciated and are enduring their day rather than enjoying their work. Perhaps they are willing to sacrifice their work environment for the lifestyle advantages…

In my experience, ignoring human resource issues is the #1 weakness of businesses in the Okanagan. For the most part, businesses are paying lip service to their most critical asset – their people! Most business plans I have seen completely neglect the key human resource strategies of recruitment, retention, compensation and performance management.

First, what was the #1 thing that would significantly increase an employee’s level of job satisfaction? What was the one thing that exceeded every other factor by almost 23%? More money, right? Nope. It wasn’t money. It was simply to be told that their bosses and their peers appreciate them – to be praised for a job well done instead of criticized for what they haven’t done.

What was second? To have more time off to actually enjoy the lifestyle that the Okanagan provides. Employees want to work hard but also want to be able to spend more time with family and friends, enjoying our incredible lifestyle!

I was shocked at this next piece of data: did you know that over 75% of those surveyed said they have never received a performance award? If employers are looking for new ways to keep employees motivated, it could be as simple as rewarding them for a job well done. Over 65% of those surveyed said their level of job satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty to their employers would increase if offered an ongoing incentive program allowing a choice of rewards. In my experience, personalized performance incentives can increase satisfaction and loyalty most effectively if a company offers rewards over a long term, rather than as a one-time pat on the back. Remember, though, that one team member’s idea of a reward may not appeal to another.

Here is what Okanagan employees said would most motivate them to improve performance if offered a non-cash reward:

  • Additional time off, including extended maternity or parental leave, the ability to bank overtime into vacation time, and the ability to manage their workweek with flex-time;
  • Tickets to recreational, sporting, and family events, ski-passes, outdoor adventure tours, mountain bike tours, golf/skiing/tennis lessons, or swimming/skiing/soccer camps or lessons for children;
  • Tickets to a favourite entertainment event like concerts, theatre, hockey, professional skating, or a Harlem Globetrotters game 🙂 ;
  • A weekend get-away trip, perhaps including some money for babysitting;
  • Gift certificates for stores and restaurants of choice;
  • Tuition for courses of their own choice, regardless if they are job related or not; and
  • Independent legal or financial planning/retirement advice, including tax preparation services.

One of the best ways I know of to uncover employee satisfaction, loyalty, and retention issues is to have someone independent of the company interview your employees one-on-one. As long as the individual findings are kept completely confidential, employees feel at ease to share their deepest concerns. This could be the best investment you will ever make! May you act on the findings of this survey and build a happier, satisfied, motivated, and loyal team 🙂

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