Labor Day 2006: Employees Want Companies to Invest in Them
September 5, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Yesterday was Labor Day in the United States, a national holiday that was created as a means of celebrating the substantial gains in workers’ rights that have been gained in hundreds of years of struggles among workers, employers, and the state and federal governments that sometimes picks sides in that ongoing struggle. A lot of you worked yesterday, with some putting in a hard day of work and even those of you who had the day off probably spent an hour checking emails.
Because it was Labor Day, it is a natural time to reflect upon our relationship with our work and our employers. And that’s why Kronos, the dominant supplier of human capital management software in the world, commissioned a survey to find out what is on the minds of workers these days. Harris Interactive did the poll for Kronos, which surveyed more than 1,000 employed adults in the United States.
Of those companies surveyed, only 36 percent said that their employers spend money on programs or activities that aim to create a satisfied workforce. (No, a decent paycheck is not usually sufficient for this, but it is a necessary starting point for most of us.) However, 80 percent of those polled said that such programs were important to them. That means, if you extrapolate from the Kronos survey, that about 44 percent of the workforce doesn’t think their employers do enough to make employees happier and work better together.
Those polled said that a competitive salary, having their entire healthcare costs paid by their employers, and company-matched 401(k) savings accounts were the most desired programs that employees wanted if they didn’t have them and valued most if they did have them. Bonus programs tied to performance, flex-time scheduling, and compressed work weeks were also cited as being something workers wanted. Some 78 percent of the employees who were lacking some or all of these perks said that if they did get them, their satisfaction level at work would improve. (And, Kronos, of course, wants to sell you the software to set up and monitor such efforts.)
When those employees who like their jobs asked why they did, they cited three reasons: they liked their boss, they were treated with respect, and they get paid well.
On the downside, 61 percent of the workers polled said that the so-called improving economy has not affected their work life. About 67 percent of those polled, who have been at their jobs more than six months, said that they have been asked to do more work and take on more responsibilities in the past six months, but only half of such workers have received a pay raise during that time.