Berna Özdemirkan

September 2016 – Brandmap: 

Well, there is an abundance of employer promises in the business world. Potential employees get confused. They are competing to get into the best company. If you read my previous articles, I already mentioned how employees get disappointed after onboarding. Promises are all very well but the fantasy world collapses when the employees start the day working at their desk and interact with their coworkers, other units and their manager.

The firm that claims to be “caring about professional development and never considering cutback on training budget” can be the first one to reduce training activities with the slightest crisis on the horizon. Or the new recruits may complete their first year in the company finding out that they were only delivered an orientation training and nothing else. What’s worse; whereas the company recommends to take specific training, the manager’s response might be “we need to get things done here, you don’t have time”. The employees are either not allowed to attend the training or can attend with their laptop to catch up with the work.

They say “our career opportunities and paths are very clear, you can easily move up here”. Next thing the employees know is that they are dry-aged. When the other department keeps getting promotions, their department shows no improvement. Then the employees think “let alone improvement, at least they should guide me and tell me where to go, what to do and how to develop myself.”

The company claims to value the employees. However when they start to work in the company, even though they are active project team members, they are not invited to the meetings or asked for their opinion; their success is assumed by other people, but when they fail this is always noticed and mentioned.

Leadership, strategy and vision are always mentioned but for the past two years there has been no interaction with the General Manager, so they don’t know what he/she looks like. Or they have no clue about the company strategies or targets as they are never filled in about those subjects.

The importance of cooperation and team work is always emphasized, however when the employees ask another unit to get the data necessary for their report, they are told that only their supervisor is authorized to make such requests. They try so hard to get help to do their jobs.

The professional and personal life balance is claimed to be the top priority, however when it comes to leaving after office hours they get condemned. Even though there is nothing written down, peer pressure is too heavy to handle. I would like to share a story told many years ago at a firm. An employee takes his umbrella and silently leaves his desk to catch the bus home at 6pm. His director sees him and asks “Where are you going, Mister? And he replies “to the men’s room, Sir.” To the men’s room with an umbrella! This is how intense the pressure is.

They talk about justice and transparency, but when the employees get promoted, their manager advises them to keep it from the others for now. Or they apply for an internal transfer to another position only to find out that someone else got the position, without any explanation. In another scenario, they always see the same people taking the training opportunities, which destroys the sense of justice.

The talk is all about establishing good interaction with the management, but when it comes to it, the manager is only interested in the business. No effort is made for people relationships. The manager never has time for performance review conversations or finishes them in 5 minutes. He/she doesn’t pay equal attention to each team member.

There are a lot more to add to these examples. These are all true stories. So what happens then? All those dissatisfaction factors are resulted in more discontent and pain. At this point, the employees wish to find some remedy to reduce their pain. They feel the need for a substantial compensation to endure all those symptoms.  And their payment or salary seem to be insufficient to them. It doesn’t matter whether your wage policy is perfectly balanced or above the market level. In employees’ opinion, you should compensate those negative aspects at least with a good salary.

So, is money the solution? It is a solution as well as painkillers are. A short-termed one. Painkillers don’t cure the disease, they only reduce the pain. So does the money. It eases the pain for some while but it is useless if the main problems are not solved.

This is the point where most company executives are mistaken. They think money is an employee’s main concern. Actually it’s their least concern. Therefore if you don’t make improvements on leadership, good management, career opportunities, sense of justice or transparency to achieve internal brand strength, you will keep assuming that the employees only need money.

I would like to remind you that scientific data shows the wage is not the priority. According to a survey conducted in 2015-2016 among 13,000 white collar employees, the compensation turned out to be the 10th most important factor out of 14 with an impact on employee engagement and loyalty. It is the least important drive for employee motivation.

Finally it is important to remember that even though the employees claim that they quit because of salary, its real impact is not so high when you analyze the reasons deeply. When you improve other aspects in your organization, you will see that the real problem is not the salary. To be a strong employer brand, it is crucial to analyze if your promises overlap with the reality. That’s where you find the real solution.