New Year’s Resolutions

January 5, 2011

New Year’s Resolutions — we make them every year:  lose weight, exercise more, spend more quality time with the family, etc., etc.  But have you ever decided to resolve to create a work environment that fosters greater employee productivity and loyalty, and reduces potential employment liability?  Why not try it this year?

Sometimes, employers feel that the solution to any employee problem is to apply a monetary poultice.  With the economy the way it has been lately, this is increasingly difficult and is rarely the solution.  While employee compensation is important, a study was conducted to find out what managers thought was important versus what their employees thought was important.1 Here are the findings:

What Managers Think Employees Want

(in order)

1. Good wages
2. Job security
3. Promotion/growth opportunities
4. Good working conditions
5. Interesting work
6. Personal loyalty to workers
7. Tactful discipline
8. Full appreciation for work done
9. Sympathetic help on personal issues
10. Feeling ‘part’ of things.

What Employees Say They Want

(in order)

1. Full appreciation for work done
2. Feeling ‘part’ of things
3. Sympathetic help on personal issues
4. Job security
5. Good wages
6. Interesting work
7. Promotion/growth opportunities
8. Personal loyalty to workers
9. Good working conditions
10. Tactful discipline

Is it surprising that the top three things that employees say they want from their managers are at the bottom of what managers think employees want? In order to turn this around, it is important for employers to make the following resolutions:

Train Managers and Supervisors

In addition to training management personnel about the importance of spotting employment issues before they become lawsuits, it is also important that they understand that to foster a more productive and cohesive workforce, they should be attuned to what employees want from their employer. Accordingly, train managers to pay attention to those three things above that are most important to employees so that they may modify their own behavior to make the workplace more harmonious.

Audit Employee Handbooks and I-9 Forms

Employment laws change daily, and ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) raids are becoming more commonplace. To avoid potential liability for failing to have proper policies and completed paperwork, make sure to have your employee handbook reviewed by a qualified professional, and conduct an internal audit of the company’s I-9 forms.

Regularly Distribute Harassment/Discrimination Policies and Obtain Signed Acknowledgments

Nothing is more frustrating than facing an employee in a harassment suit who claims that he/she was never told about the company’s harassment policy. To avoid facing this dilemma, distribute these policies at least once a year and make sure that all employees sign a document acknowledging their receipt of the policy. In addition, make sure that you have a signed acknowledgment from each employee that he/she has received a copy of the employee handbook.

Making these three simple resolutions for your company, and sticking to them, will go a long way in making the New Year very bright and promising!


1 Foreman Facts, from the Labor Relations Institute of NY. This study was replicated with similar results by Ken Kovach (1980); Valerie Wilson, Achievers International (1988); Bob Nelson, Blanchard Training & Development (1991); and Sheryl & Don Grimme, GHR Training Solutions (1997-2001).