HAPPY New Year everyone. We get buoyed at the start of any new year, especially one that has been talked about so much, with Malaysia’s Vision 2020 that was instituted all those years ago.
On Jan 1, I listened earnestly to one of my all-time favourite songs, ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone. The start of the song has lyrics that go: ‘It’s a new dawn, it's a new day, it’s a new life for me, ooh’ and I’m feelin’ good.’
It is the new year and it is a new dawn.As you read this, I am sure you are slowly recovering from all the revelry.
And, of course, I am sure your mobile phone and social media feeds were inundated with new year greetings.
But really, what do you want from your career and work-life this year?
For my final training programme of the year, I was invited to speak to 78 teachers at Kolej Tingkatan Enam Desa Mahkota last Friday.
While it was daunting to address the principal and her academic staff, I also found it quite empowering.
Based on my experiences as a leadership coach, management consultant and corporate trainer, as well as the discussions I had with the teachers at the programme, I would like to offer some ideas about what employers and employees really want from each other.
What do employers want?
The biggest quality that your employer is looking for is problem-solving skills.
This means that if you want to be valuable to your employer, make learning this skill a priority.
Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus only on the problem. Therefore, you need to be solution-oriented.
You have to be competent to work in a team. Employers need orchestral musicians, not solo artistes. No matter how skilled you are, you need to be apt at being part of a team that creates beautiful collaborative music.
Good written communication skills often top the wish list of employers.In modern businesses, you will spend time writing emails, reports and all manner of communiqués. Hone your writing skills because your company really needs this.
Work on developing your leadership skills. Don’t be intimidated by this over-used term. It is simply a practical proficiency that shows your ability to guide yourself, others, teams or the entire organisation towards meeting agreed goals.
And have a strong work ethic. This means you have a solid set of principles that you use in executing your job, which will ground you.
What do employees want?
Multiple studies indicate that while salaries are not the biggest motivators for an employee, everyone wants to be paid what they are worth. If you are an employer, you need to match your staff’s expectations.
I suggest that you research market rates. After which, you should list down your priorities and be transparent with your entire team on what you will pay in return for them fulfilling your expectations.
Aspirational earning is a motivating tool, so I believe that declaring what everyone is earning has a place in modern work-places. This way, if there is a wage disparity, you can be clear with your team why you choose to pay someone more.
And remember the only acceptable justification is if you can demonstrate unambiguously that the people you pay more, actually do more.
Proper health insurance is next on the list.
The worldwide Harris Polls organisation did research for Glassdoor, a website where workers anonymously reviewed companies and their management.
It revealed that employees ranked health insurance as the biggest benefit they needed. Therefore, It’s an investment worth making to incentivise your team.
Also, the onus is on you to help your staff achieve work-life balance. Deloitte’s global survey on employee needs placed this almost on par with salary.
This is possibly the reason why Amazon employees are on a 30-hour work-week and Airbnb offers employees a US$2,000 stipend annually, just to travel.
Advancement opportunities is high on the list of an employee, too.
Your team members need to know where they are heading. If you do not offer a clear growth pathway, they will not stay. The millennial generation is especially keen on this.
Create a development plan for each of them. This will keep your team motivated.
And finally, you need to infuse your employees with a sense of purpose. While they will see their salary as being vital, you need to understand this reality.
For example, research undertaken by Rutgers University indicates that at least 50 per cent of millennials would take a pay cut for work that matches their own values.
This generation seeks to work for companies that are socially responsible and places great emphasis on having a positive impact on society.
So, as you sail into 2020, be cognisant of your real needs at the work place.
My best wishes to you and yours. Keep adding value to others.