Probably the most disrespectful thing you can say to an employee is that you don’t have time to deal with their issues. This is a statement that cuts very deep – and it happens a lot. Managers may think they have valid reasons for this response; they may simply not have the physical time available, they may not know how to deal with the issue or they may not care to deal with it. Some typical issues are: training requests, time off requests, questions about decision making boundaries, business process questions or people policy questions such as vacation, pay raises, benefits, etc. Some infrequent questions could be around privacy and confidentiality, harassment claim procedures, maternity leave, jury duty leave, etc.
The number one reason cited in most surveys as to why employees leave a company is the treatment they receive from their immediate manager –and this often revolves around not getting responses to valid questions and concerns.
The labour market is going to get significantly tighter and you will feel the effects. The baby boomer demographics are being felt and there will soon be more people leaving the labour market than entering it. This means it’s going to be an employee’s market out there.
In the years to come, expect to see job candidates turning the tables and asking the employer questions about people policies, management behaviour with examples, benefits, career development opportunities and pay practices to name a few. Smart companies are getting ahead of the curve and gearing up for what will be an unprecedented time in history where new entrants to the labour market will have great latitude in choosing their employer. This is the coming reality and the statistics bear it out. Consider this future scenario. In 2014, successful companies A and B are in the same labour market for additional resources as business has been brisk, their products are in demand and they are experiencing profitable growth. An advertisement is placed for a senior buyer or a customer service rep. Company A has a positive environment in terms of friendly people, office space, decent benefits and a promise of continued growth. Company B has that plus they’ve invested in people management structure and processes. People have job descriptions and are working to specific objectives, career planning is the norm, they have a training and development policy, a full suite of HR policies, and a well understood system of performance reviews and pay increase processes. They also have invested time in providing their managers with people management skills.
Who do you think will employ the best candidates? We may think, naively, that current and potential employees will not be interested in these issues but let’s be very clear on this point. Potential employees will, without doubt, be in the driver’s seat. They will have choices to make and they will unquestionably be doing their own due diligence on potential employers. In addition, companies that don’t put the essential HR basics in place will risk losing good employees to those companies that have. The bottom line here is that the companies that don’t have time to deal with people issues now and don’t put the HR basics in place will have the tables turned on them, as their current or future employees, really won’t have time for them either.