Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Employees should be viewed by business leaders as a company’s biggest source of competitive advantage, according to Mike Ryan, senior vice president of Madison Performance Group—a firm that specializes in workforce engagement and recognition—because compensation is usually one of the biggest expense items in a company’s budget.
Yet that’s why many companies targeted payroll as a necessary area of cost reduction during the economic downturn, Ryan said during a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) webcast on July 28, 2011. But cutting staff has consequences. Companies that needed to do more with less “let people go in droves,” he said, and these companies expected the employees who were left to pick up the slack.
Such an approach is problematic, he explained, because businesses in a knowledge-based economy are dependent on the capabilities of people. And because organizations are trying to do more with less, some companies have overstretched the employees who kept their jobs, he continued, leaving many feeling like “disposable commodities.”
The result is that, “Emotionally, many employees have already checked out,” he said.
High unemployment exacerbates the problem, according to Ryan, because it prompts employers to feel a false sense of security--that employees, lacking other options, will simply be happy to have a job.
Moreover, many employers believe employees are just as effective and productive as they were before the recession—if not more so. “[Employers] see high levels of productivity from their workers,” he said, “But the willingness [workers have] to put in discretionary effort has declined.”
Such increased demands, which he called the “expanding employee footprint,” rob employees of the time they need to do things they really want to do, Ryan continued, such as innovating, pursuing professional development, obtaining certifications and participating on ad hoc teams. As a result, the job doesn’t mean as much to them anymore because they are no longer getting out of it the things that drive personal satisfaction.
In such a climate, workers tend to do things because they have to, not because they want to, he noted.
And productivity levels might not be as high as employers think they are. A report released in August 2011, by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that the productivity of U.S. workers dropped in April through June 2011, the second consecutive quarter of decline.
Getting Back on Track
Ryan predicted that the new battle for talent will play out as a retention struggle. “If companies are really interested in keeping [employees], they need to provide the emotional, intellectual and economic returns employees are looking for,” he said.
“All they are getting is a paycheck,” he said, and that’s something that workers can get elsewhere.
When HR professionals in Canada were asked what leaders could do to improve engagement, the 368 respondents to the “Employee Engagement: Who’s Responsible?” study released in March 2011 by Psychometrics Canada said:
“A paycheck is not enough,” said Mark Fitzsimmons, president of Psychometrics Canada, an assessment consultancy. “To keep staff engaged, organizations need to give them the opportunity to use their skills, to be creative and, most of all, to be listened to. … Many organizations understand this already, but few are taking the necessary steps to address it.”
Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies