Reading a post in the paper a few days ago got us thinking about how people (new employees) in a job might really look at their jobs and work life balance.
That particular article in the Times, mentioned that Indian managerial-level employees seem to be rejecting job offers from companies that operate for more than 5 days a week. The underlying logic seems to be that people are willing to put in more hours during the week (and that they don't really mind it) as long as bosses don't give them work on weekends. This is becase stress levels at work are higher than what they used to be and employees therefore need weekends to re-energize themselves. The article also reminded us of other studies that show how more and more people are bending towards work life balance (ranked 4th among the top 10 factors people consider while choosing a job) and that working smart is the new workplace credo.
However, here comes the ironic part. Studies also show that a higher compensation can tilt the odds when it comes to employees sacrificing their weekends for the organization. When asked, 90% of freshers were OK working six days a week if the compensation was better than what was normally offered and only 10% chose jobs that gave them the weekend off over higher compensation. In short, the buzz seems to be 'pay me better and I don't really care about my weekends".
Does this mean that an incremental increase in pay (for four extra Saturdays) is the solution to all your people issues? Have we finally found the key to life-long retention and loyalty? Does this mean that companies and bosses reading this can now rejoice?
The answer is a resounding "No!". Unfortunately (for companies) while employees are ok with working longer if paid well, what one also needs to remember, perhaps more than anything, is that people don't leave companies. They leave the people they were working with there.
So what can a company really do? It's simple really.
Invest in building the right culture at your workplace and start building this culture 'Top Down' rather than 'Bottom Up'. Build a workplace where managers are trained to respect their colleagues and direct reportees as people first and then as cost centres. Build a culture where autonomy and responsibility go hand in hand and employees are given an environment that breeds the entrepreneurial spirit, a place where managers are kind if they make mistakes. No matter what the discipline and nature of work, make work more fun and interesting. Create an organization where results are more important than what time you came in to work and what time you leave.
Try this we say. Try this and it will probably also save you that extra 4 days of overtime pay for the long hours put in by your employees.