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Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace
ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES OWNERS OR RENTERS?

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

Only half of all employees believe they have a good future with their organization.

A few months ago I wrote about my sister's terrible job. They treated her horribly. Thank goodness she was finally let go.

The problem is that the only thing worse than having a job is looking for a job. And with an unemployed husband, a mortgage, two young children, and lots of bills to pay, the pressure to find another job was intense.

To her delight and surprise, she was offered 3 jobs in just 2 weeks. She ended up taking a job in the accounting office of a major employment agency. It was more responsibility and more money than she had been making. Most importantly, her boss treated her with respect and dignity, unlike her past several employers.

All was good. There was a big celebration that night at her house. But then, after only one week on the job, she learned that the CEO of the parent company was looking to cut costs and her position was in jeopardy.

Just another day in the work world!

THE PROBLEM

Only half of all employees feel they have a good future with their organization. Many, therefore, live in constant fear of losing their jobs, often due to no fault of their own. Most employees today know that their days at their current job are numbered. They view themselves as short-timers who are there for only the time being.

This is a problem for organizations because employees, understandably, adopt the mindset of a "renter" rather than an "owner." The property values of neighborhoods populated with renters are typically much lower than the values of similar neighborhoods of owners. Owners take pride in their home. Renters don't develop an emotional attachment to it. Owners have a long-term commitment to their homes. Renters have a short-term, "what's-in-it-for me" focus and are more committed to their long-term housing plans rather than their current home.

It should be no surprise that in organizations that treat their employees like renters, absenteeism and employee turnover are higher, employees steal more from the company, the quality of the work is poorer, and customers are more dissatisfied.

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WHAT TO DO

  1. Hire New Employees Very Gradually

    I have a privately held client in the construction products business that has been growing steadily for the past 15 years. They value the long-term loyalty of their employees and made the strategic decision long ago to grow gradually. They hire new employees only once they are absolutely convinced that the business can support them. If they were publicly owned, they would undoubtedly have grown much more rapidly.

  2. Avoid Layoffs

    Employees who experience layoffs in their organization are scarred forever. Offering outplacement services to those who are laid off and reassuring the survivors that there are no more layoffs anticipated doesn't really help. Besides, many studies have shown that layoffs rarely provide the long-term value senior management desires

  3. Treat Employees as Fellow Investors

    Organizations that treat their employees as investors offer long-term benefits such as pensions, stock options, and profit sharing. Organizations that treat their employees as renters are more likely to pay by the hour rather than offer salaries, offer temporary rather than permanent employment, and outsource rather than in-source work.

CONCLUSION

What type of employer are you? Do you treat your employees as renters or owners? If you treat them as renters, don't be surprised if they act like renters.

I am very much interested in your views on this topic.
Please reply with your comments and suggestions to .

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