This past week, this employee retention speaker and employee retention author was meeting with a colleague that shared an article from WorldatWork that indicated that in a study of 3,500 workers in the US, United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland that “meaningful work beat out things like a positive work culture, compensation and perks, a supportive manager and a fun team.” The article went on to talk about recognition, respect and empowerment. At the risk of sounding cynical…this has been the case for years. What they talk about has been the case for AT LEAST 20 years in this employee recruitment expert opinion. As an HR leader, we talked about employee involvement/empowerment, not micromanaging people and being into the work you do back in the 90’s!
As I read the article, I thought about the fact that a positive work culture is essential to meaningful work and that without a supportive manager you probably aren’t going to have meaningful work. The thing is, if you work with a team of people that are jerks, all the meaningful work in the world is not going to keep you from looking for a new job. The people responding to the study must be fortunate enough to work for a great boss, have a positive culture and work with decent people because without those you probably will not have meaningful work or be allowed to do meaningful work.
I do agree with the idea that it isn’t totally about compensation. I also agree with the idea of perks not being as important as so many places emphasize. If that was the case, you wouldn’t see all the turnover in high-tech because they pay their people a ton of money and do all the perks and they still have rampant turnover.
In the end, without a positive organizational culture, a great boss and good people to work with, meaningful work doesn’t matter and, in all likelihood, you will not even exist. People still need C.R.A.P. (Caring, Respect, Appreciation and Praise). That comes from your boss, the people you work and the organizational culture. Without that, meaningful work would not matter and your employee retention would be horrible…at least in the opinion of this employee retention consultant!