Survey: The 8 Qualities Employers Most Want in Their Employees

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A lot of surveys come across my desk, and the best of them are the ones that tell you something new or breaks new ground on a particularly interesting topic.

Sometimes however, I bump into a survey that simply takes what we already know and gives us a new — but thought-provoking — perspective.

That’s how I view this new nationwide survey of 174 employers by OI Partners, an organization that describes itself as “a global talent management company, renowned for its highly personalized services …  (specializing) in mid-level, executive and group outplacement; executive coaching; leadership development and workforce solutions.”

What grabbed me about this survey was the topic — the eight qualities employers value most in workers.

Yes, probably every manager has their own list of what they look for in an employee, and they have probably developed it through trial-and-error toiling in the trenches somewhere. That’s what makes this survey even more interesting, because any manager worth their salt is going to want to see how their go-to employee qualities match up with what other managers are looking for.

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So here is the list, along with comments from Steve Ford, the chairman of OI Partners. See how it matches up with yours:

  1. Being a team player (selected by 71 percent of surveyed companies): “Being part of a team has taken on a higher priority since many companies are still operating with leaner work forces and there is a greater need to accomplish goals through others” said Ford.
  2. Fully focused on satisfying customers (chosen by 68 percent of employers): “Employees should share complimentary letters and emails they receive with their bosses. Don’t assume that he or she already knows about your excellent customer service, but do it in a discreet way,” Ford added.
  3. Motivate and engage others in their jobs (chosen by 65 percent of companies): “In a challenging economy, employers appreciate when their employees reach out and keep each other motivated and involved in their work,” noted Ford.
  4. Success in achieving your “critical few objectives” (picked by 62 percent of companies): “These are the top one or two reasons why you were hired in the first place. Accomplishing these will count more than any other contributions you have made,” said Ford.
  5. Work smart (preferred by 60 percent of companies): This includes being up to date on the latest technology, keeping your skills and professional knowledge current, and continually searching for improvements in productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
  6. Work hard (selected by 57 percent of employers): “Although companies for years have preferred working smart to working hard, they still want to see that you are dedicated to your job, put in an extra effort and volunteer to fill any gaps when necessary,” said Ford.
  7. Add value to the organization (chosen by 52 percent of employers): Retention rewards are a recognition of your value. Track and document the specific ways you have added value to your employer.
  8. Contribute to improving the bottom line (selected by 48 percent of businesses): There are various ways to do this, including helping to increase sales, cut costs, decrease turnover, and make useful suggestions and recommendations.

How does this list stack up against yours? My guess is that you’ll find a lot of overlap here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you also have some other qualities that are  worth adding to it.

Feel free to leave them as a comment here; if I get enough, I’ll do another post on the top qualities that TLNT readers desire most in their employees.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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