Things Great Employers Do, and How You Influence Every One

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It’s always great when I can share research that makes it clear how important you are to your company’s success.

I wish more of you would: A) Take the research to heart and to your business leaders; and, B) incorporate the research into your strategic priorities for compensation. After all, in addition to improving lots of things about your place of work, addressing findings like these in your own backyard could mean improved career opportunities and job security for you.

Here I go again! This time, I’m pushing research from the fine researchers from Gallup (so the research holds water), which has been publicized by those persnickety practitioners at HBR. They’re giving us practical insight into what it takes to have your engaged workers outnumber the detached ones by 9 to 1.

Things that great employers do

Here are seven (7) things that great employers do that Peter Flade, James Harter and Jim Asplund, three distinguished leaders at Gallup, “feel confident in recommending.” It’s the short version, with me adding some cheerleading for what these seven things have to do with our work.

  1. Have involved and curious leaders who want to improve. Selection, development, coaching and succession planning anyone? Not to mention, effective executive pay-for-performance.
  2. Have cracking HR functions. That’s right, we’re No. 2. Why? Because effective HR contributors teach leaders and managers to stretch and develop employees, and effective compensation specialists make sure that recognition and rewards are provided for these behaviors.
  3. Ensure the basic engagement requirements are met before expecting an inspiring mission to matter. And I quote, “When employees know what is expected of them, have what they need to do their jobs, are good fits for their roles, and feel their managers have their backs, they will commit to almost anything the company is trying to accomplish.” How’s that for an endorsement of the importance of job definition, competencies, recognition, development and straightforward compensation practices?
  4. Never use a downturn as an excuse. The recession’s been around for going on eight years. You may still be cautious about money, but there is no excuse for being stingy about hope, the researchers point out. Constant communications are one of the few things that leaders and managers can accomplish when most everything else is out of control, and it pays off!
  5. Trust, hold accountable, and relentlessly support managers and teams. What more can I say?
  6. Have a straightforward and decisive approach to performance management. Can you believe it? “… the hallmark of these great workplaces is that they are filled with recognition junkies … (who) see tolerance of mediocrity as the enemy.”
  7. Do not pursue engagement for its own sake. These researchers are saying that outcomes that influence results matter– customer service, financial and employees’ ability to do their best — are what should matter. Not HR programs or (dare we say it?) their metrics.

Why compensation and HR matter

Remember the unfortunate chest beating in past years, with all the hollering that compensation work is only about money, with no intrinsic motivational value? It ignored what compensation is meant to influence and is able to accomplish. But this research makes it evident.

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Of course, outside the 32 exemplary companies that Gallup studied, life is nowhere near as rosy. But remember No. 4 — don’t use your current state as an excuse. Acknowledge the potential you have and check out further details that will help you get organized at the Gallup Business Journal.

This was originally published at the Compensation Café blog, where you can find a daily dose of caffeinated conversation on everything compensation.

Margaret O'Hanlon is founder and principal of re:Think Consulting. She has decades of experience teaming up with clients to ensure great HR ideas deliver valuable business results. She has worked with early-phase and Fortune 500 companies, as well as universities, non-profits and local firms. Before she founded re:Think Consulting, Margaret was an Principal in Total Rewards Communications with Towers Perrin. Contact her at mohanlon@rethinkconsulting.com.

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