What do employees want? How winning companies are adopting

#covid19 has been an eye-opener. For one, it is demonstrating that maybe the government does not need all the employees to function effectively. And at the end of the day, health and safety.

So, why is the government budget still low on healthcare?

That aside, I have learned from my team and our clients that employees want the following:

  1. Better pay. Even if the pay is small, provide it on time!
  2. Flexible working hours
  3. Opportunity to develop skills
  4. Work that is challenging and aligned to personal interests
  5. Respect
  6. Work-life integration

Better pay, and on time

It is lockdown time and you have no money, how does one survive? Food prices have been hiked. Charcoal is damn expensive and so is electricity and gas. Utility companies will cut the services off immediately you default.

It is not enough to be paid well. The salary must be able to come on time.

Much as financial planners say it does not matter how much one earns, what matters is how much is saved and invested. If your earning is small, the savings are small too. In Uganda, there are few options to invest in. Real estate is capital intensive. So, is the bond market. Plus many institutional investors are into the stock market. The treasury section of banks focuses on forex and money markets trading.

So this is not easy for an individual investor. Even if you save with a fund manager, the return on your small savings is meagre. I once saved over Ugx. 5m with a fund manager, and the interest they used to send me as my net income was just Ugx. 20,000 monthly! I saw it a jocking, yet my savings were adequate.

To live a decent life, staff deserve better pay that comes on time.

But this means that they must be able to earn it. In this era of covid19, how can the company pay the employee bill if a proper remote working strategy is not implemented and adhered to?

All employers now must document a policy on remote working. This is a new era environment. Remote working keeps employees close to their families and saves time usually wasted in communicating. If well adopted, it could provide a competitive advantage.

Employees must take self-discipline and personal accountability to win. Otherwise, even if the payment is small it may fail to be made.

Flexible working hours

During this #covid19 lockdown, is your team on annual leave or forced leave or are working remotely?

Employees need flexible working hours where they decide on when to start to work and stop working. For this to happen, two things must be true: clear performance targets and outcome indicators, and personal employee discipline to deliver.

What are the job outcomes?

If the set employee targets in the scorecard are to generate say the US $1,000 monthly for the people in the revenue and business development side or save the equivalent amount for the folks in the finance or cost-saving side, the staff must acknowledge this target as the basis for his or her payment at the end of the reporting period. It is the responsibility of staff to provide daily/weekly/monthly work plan specifying the activities to be done to attain the tasks and the budget required.

Failure to do so is a sign of incompetence.

The company pays bills like rent and staff salaries in hard cash. No excuses. Staff must be mature to know that it is their responsibility to make this money. They add value by achieving their targets or contributing to making the money!

The company can provide flexible working hours to staff who take responsibility for their performance targets and provide ongoing communication. Since staff could even be based at home, as in this period of the #lockdown, they are free to decide when to start working and when to stop. The key performance measure is whether the set target of US $1,000 revenue has been attained or not.

If the target is not attained, and the employee was working remotely, flexibly, how can then the employer assess whether the employee was doing work? That would require timesheets to be completed to account for the time and the end of period performance report. The problem with timesheets is that they come at the end of the period in which they may help determine the time an employee spends on a particular activity compared to another one (efficiency), but may not help recover the lost revenue.

What have you done to deserve flexible working hours? Are you [as a staff] ready to take on the challenge? Using this lockdown period to justify.

Even if employers use AI, modern working methods call for staff accountability and responsiveness to adapt to the requirements of the modern times: self-responsibility and timely reporting of progress instead of waiting to make performance reports at the end of the period.

To be continued…

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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