Caring v. Money - Which Wins?

Caring is the Currency that Captures Employees’ Loyalty

February 13, 2014

A team leader at a large corporation recently received a big raise – in excess of 20 percent – and a pile of new stock options. He is pleased but insulted.

Pleased because, well, who doesn’t like a huge raise? It just showed up in his January paychecks and he did the math. As for the stock options, he learned about them via an email from someone he doesn’t know, deep in the HR/compensation silo.

No supervisor, no one in his chain of command has said a word to him about either the options or the salary boost. With regular status meetings, they’ve had plenty of opportunity to speak up. They have not, and that’s why this highly paid team leader feels insulted.

It is as if his supervisors simply cannot bring themselves to say aloud, “Thank you,” or “We wanted to show you how much we value your contributions,” or “You are a valuable and important part of this company.”

Such a conversation, says this frustrated employee, would have done more – even without the money – to solidify his loyalty.

This is a true story and for obvious reasons we can’t identify our protagonist or his employer. We doubt it is the only such story in Corporate America. Clearly, money isn’t everything.

So what is?

Caring. Showing employees their contributions are important. Showing that the company, direct supervisors especially, care about workers as people.

Such a management style does not come naturally to many leaders, especially those taught that business is business and personal is personal. For generations, the line separating the two worlds was considered well defined and essential to maintaining order and chain of command within an organization.

Those days are gone.

Every major research organization that has looked at the modern workplace finds that employee engagement is highest when management demonstrates interest in employees’ well being and employees feel valued. We know employee engagement rates are directly tied to feelings about interaction with their immediate supervisor. In the Dale Carnegie study, 80 percent of employees who were very dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor were disengaged. The biggest reason was that they did not think their direct supervisor cared about them or valued their contributions.

Companies will succeed, grow and retain top talent when they take advantage of supervisors with innate people skills and invest in developing those skills within the management pipeline. Revamped job descriptions, additional training, and tools that improve communication, accountability and productivity all have their places.

As does a simple, “Great job. We’re lucky to have you.”

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