This article from WorldatWork has some unbelievable statistics about our current employment trends. Can you believe that only 45% of workers are satisfied with their jobs (down from 60% twenty years ago) with the highest level of dissatisfaction with those under age 25? What can we really do to make sure that our employees are happy at work?
This has a huge impact on the generation gap in companies and the sharing of ideas. Younger employees are frustrated with inefficiencies that are in place and how management doesn’t want to make changes that could improve the organization.
We know what technology can do to help improve processes and workload. Companies can no longer be run using the processes and techniques that were used in the past.
I know what it is like to be an young employee who is not happy at work. I had experience as a college grad being disappointed when I started my first job as a government employee. I had such high expectations of the job I would have and the challenges I would overcome. I thought I could change the world. I ended up working with no one my age and the generation gap was huge! I wanted to make changes and make things run better but no one else wanted to hear my thoughts or ideas. As you might expect, I quickly become very bored and left as soon as I found another job that would challenge me more.
So, what can we do?
The perception that young employees are only looking for high salaries is wrong. I would argue that most recent college grads would be very happy at work if they have a huge responsibility to make an impact and are given the opportunity to learn. Many times employees who are put in charge to train new employees don’t know how to train and keep them happy. They are just told by their managers to train another person how to do their job. Who wants to train someone who you fear will force you out of a job someday?
For those of us that graduated from college in the early 2000’s, we thought we could start a job and if we didn’t like it, we could just transfer to the next job that was eagerly awaiting us. I had many different job offers and I thought that I would always have my pick. Today this is no longer possible with a 9.7% unemployment rate, as many as 350 applicants for every job vacancy and an average of 10 applicants interviewing for each vacancy. Another recent study from WorldatWork, showed that more than 75% of university students said job security was more important to them than pay and benefits, likely as a result of the recession.
Whether employees are not happy at work because of pay, a distrust in leadership, stress or an increased workload, as managers we need to figure out what makes them happy and meet their expectations. No matter how different we may be, if we listen to their ideas we can improve our organizations.
Here are suggestions to keep your employees happy at work:
1) Offer challenges or competitions
2) Give your employees even more responsibility
3) Provide ongoing development discussions
4) Show them where they are headed within the company and that their outlook is bright
5) Tell them when they are doing great work (and also provide feedback if needed)
What other suggestions do you have to keep employees happy at work?
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