By Nicola Wright
An organization’s success is built on the back of happy employees. But do you know what your employees really value in their workplace?
We asked Microsoft Dynamics professionals about their job satisfaction in our latest salary survey. Thousands of them told us what they wanted out of their working life, and what frustrated them, and what would cause them to leave their employers.
There’s been a lot of talk about the modern workplace in the past few years, with a gradually shifting focus on employee wellbeing. Workplace culture has moved away from the assembly line ideals of the past few decades, as more and more workplaces realize the direct effect employee happiness has on their success.
During the 90s, cash-strapped businesses facing a recession sought out perks for their employees (at no cost to themselves). And thus, business casual was born. The slackening of suit-and-tie dress codes in offices, and the introduction of “casual Fridays” may have been seen as a quick-fix way for businesses to cheer up harried employees, but it actually helped pave the way for the more relaxed, compassionate modern workplace.
Over the past quarter-century or so, work-life balance has become increasingly important for workers. Remember all those 90s family movies where Dad (almost always Tim Allen) misses a baseball game and has to learn to be less of a workaholic? The idea that work should be a part of your life, and not the be all and end all, slowly became more mainstream; and with a new generation moving into the workforce in the past few years, the value placed on autonomy in the workplace has skyrocketed.
Both attitudes toward workplace collaboration and advancements in technology have seen the siloed, en-cubicled worker of the past become less and less commonplace. The relatively new ability to work and communicate from anywhere, at any time, has given rise to more flexible work patterns, and with workers no longer shackled to their desks during the usual nine-to-five shift the erosion of that rigidity has bled into other areas of the workplace.
As increased self-sufficiency has gradually been introduced, businesses are realizing that a more easy-going ethos does not necessarily equate to less productivity or discipline. In fact, it can foster big leaps in employee engagement; take care of your people, and they’ll take care of you.
To this end, many businesses are now making a concerted effort to keep their employees happy, with an eye to improving retention and in turn, driving productivity. An increasing number of companies are putting wellbeing strategies in place improve employee engagement, with “perks” such as unlimited vacation, flexitime, and free food at work becoming more and more prevalent.
Working to maintain employee engagement is vital for modern workplaces. With turbulent deviations in the economic climate and the way we live and work perpetually evolving, the age of the job for life has gone to dust. People no longer tie themselves to the mast of one company for their entire careers; they learn, they grow, and if they can’t find what they’re looking for in their current position, they find a better offer.
As far as keeping employees happy goes, we all love hearing about eccentric offices packed with mini golf courses, bean bags, and treehouses, and often these quirky design aspects are indicative of the workplace’s wider culture of cohesion and wellbeing. However, if a company has deeper issues with employee engagement, dumping a ping pong table in the breakroom isn’t going to be enough to paper over the cracks. When it comes to keeping employees content and motivated, there are often more important things to them than being able to take a slide down to accounting.
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Of the thousands of Microsoft Dynamics professionals we surveyed, only 26% were satisfied with their current job, with 58% stating that while they were generally content, they were open to other employment opportunities. By this token, 3/4 workers in the Dynamics channel are passively, if not actively, looking for a new position.
Employee turnover is costly, inconvenient, and leaves your business out of pocket on the investments you make in your staff. Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep your best employees onside, particularly in the Dynamics channel. Not only is the Dynamics market rapidly changing, with major innovations in Dynamics products over the past 12 months, it’s currently a candidate-short market. With less talent out there to go around, retaining good Dynamics professionals is crucial. So what do Microsoft Dynamics professionals really want from their workplace? And how can employers find – and keep – the best Dynamics talent in the market?
To make sure your company creates an environment that people want to stay in, first you have to understand what makes them leave. We asked our Dynamics professionals which facets of their job they were unsatisfied with. While the majority of our respondents were content with the location and environment they worked in, and the hours their position entailed, there were consistent aspects with which respondents were unhappy.
Everyone could probably stand to be paid a little better for the work they do, but it might surprise you to learn that rate of pay was not in the top three reasons why Dynamics pros were unsatisfied at work. Just under half of our respondents felt they were underpaid, but ranking much higher in the great pyramid of dissatisfaction were lack of benefits, lack of training, and lack of career progression.
When your workers consider their compensation, they often take into account more than just their salary. For many employees, a good benefits package is worth more than a little extra on their paycheck, and helps workers feel appreciated and taken care of. From an employer’s perspective, offering attractive benefits can help entice and retain talent, boost morale among employees, and reduce downtime through sickness and absence.
So, what perks do Microsoft Dynamics professionals desire? We asked our respondents which benefits are offered as part of their current package, and what benefits they’d like ideally like to receive.
Unsurprisingly, for technology professionals, a laptop topped the list of most common benefits for Dynamics pros but didn’t even enter the top 20 when it came to the most desired. Conversely, and drawing a parallel with our respondents’ desire for more training, education and training allowances ranked as the third most desired benefit, but did not even rank in the top 10 most common.
Also among the most sought after, but rarely offered, benefits was equity or shares in the company. While bonuses ranked highly both in terms of what Dynamics professionals desired and currently received, offering employees equity or shares in the company provides a much longer-term investment and can help increase engagement as employees feel intrinsically invested in the enduring success of the business.
In several countries around the world, 13th-month pay (or Christmas bonus, depending on where you are) is mandated by law, but in most areas, it’s at the discretion of the company whether or not they offer an additional, non-performance related bonus. It’s easy to see why these “gifted” additional salaries would be desirable, as they are usually offered with no strings attached in terms of expectation of performance, and at the end of the calendar year. 13th-month pay is an excellent way of showing appreciation to employees (especially since the new year is the most common time for workers to seek new employment).
Gym membership or fitness expenses were also a sought-after perk. It goes without saying that, more often than not, healthy employees are happy employees, and helping staff stay active is especially important in the tech industry, where most workers will spend their days sitting staring at a screen. Some enterprise companies now have fitness facilities on site, and while that’s not achievable for all businesses, evidently support in keeping active is something that workers would like to see more of in their workplaces.
Second highest on our Dynamics professionals’ list of reasons why they were dissatisfied with their jobs was a lack of training. In a fast-moving industry like CRM and ERP, keeping up to date with the latest developments is essential to a businesses’ success, whether they’re reselling Dynamics solutions or simply employing them to run their business processes.
It’s a time of great upheaval for the Dynamics channel, with the release of Dynamics 365, and more businesses are moving to the cloud, but having the latest solutions to hand means nothing if your employees don’t know how to make the most of it.
Devoting time and money to training is a no-brainer; your employees feel more capable and empowered in their work, and your business benefits from having skilled and knowledgeable workers at the helm.
Training shouldn’t only address technical skills, however, even in the IT industry. Often overlooked in the tech business, soft skills are also central to your staff’s ability to perform well, and having workers who are lacking in interpersonal abilities can have a knock-on effect across your whole workforce, and cause difficulties with client relationships.
This focus on continuous learning should be applied at all levels of a company; with managers playing such a key part in employee contentment, proper coaching for higher-ups is critical to both their happiness and the happiness of their team.
Though some employers might have a reluctance to shell out on “leveling-up” their people, when they could so easily leave the business, failing to support employee development is far more likely to promote turnover in the long run. Helping people reach their full potential is all part of building a healthy culture of engagement; one that people will be happy to stay in. As business wizard and private island owner Richard Branson said; “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Hot on the heels of lack of training, the number one thing that drives good Microsoft Dynamics professionals away is a lack of career opportunities.
This is the big one, because even if a company has great benefits and provides opportunities to learn new things, if there’s nowhere for employees to go, they won’t stay. No one likes spinning their wheels, so it’s important for employees to feel like they have a future with your company and that there’s room for them to move forward if they put in the graft.
If your employees don’t have a long-term plan in place where they are, and if they can’t see that there’s a path laid out in front of them with a reasonable destination, they’re going to look to take their next step — and that’s going to take them right out of the door.
Now we know what makes Dynamics pros dissatisfied in their jobs, the next question is; what do they value?
Further to the notion that jobs are no longer for life, and that there’s more to a job than pay, over two-thirds of our respondents said that gaining the right type of experience in their role was more important than their salary. More than nine out of 10 respondents stated that working for innovative companies—those who looked to the future, embraced new technologies, and found ways of doing things—was also vital.
Most important to our respondents by far, however, was being valued by their employer. 97% of our Dynamics professionals said being appreciated for the work they do was imperative to their job satisfaction.
And there’s no better way of showing appreciation than working to keep your employees engaged. As evidenced by our respondents’ answers, so much of keeping employees happy in the workplace comes down to investing in them as people; investing in their wellbeing with great benefits, investing in their performance with continuous upskilling, and investing in their future by providing them with a career path.
And more often than not, that investment will pay off in spades.
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