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Employee Engagement: Money Matters and Radical Transparency

Two employee engagement money questions

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Don Macpherson from Modern Survey asked me the following two questions about compensation and employee engagement. These questions came out of Modern Survey’s recent findings:

Employee engagement now includes compensation among the top drivers (number five according to our latest study in September of 2012) and satisfaction has dropped significantly over the last two years.

How should direct managers deal with the increasing importance and decreasing satisfaction of compensation – keeping in mind that they may not be able to increase compensation for employees?

Money matters! Even if you cannot change something it does not mean that you should not be talking about it. As a direct manager, if I cannot change compensation I would want to talk with my reports about this and I would also talk about what else we can do for fuller engagement without minimizing their financial needs and concerns. Of course a good manager with an engaged employee can always advocate for better compensation on behalf of the employee.

How should senior leaders address this?

If you are a senior leader recognize that your income may be considerably different than other employees’ income. Calculate the ratio difference between you and starting employees. If there is a huge ratio difference, and there frequently is, be sensitive to this. As they say in the UK, “Mind the Gap.”

If the company is profitable and it is because of the people working there (and when is it not because of employees) make sure this is recognized not just with thanks and long service pins but with compensation that is in tune with contribution.

If the company is struggling financially people appreciate honesty and transparency so let them know what is going on, ask for their help in addressing it, and when things improve fully compensate. Ask yourself: How radically transparent  is our company? Here is a snippet from an HBR blog post by  Ryan Smith and Golnaz Tabibnia on why radical transparency is good for business

The entire workforce has access to a host of information about the performance and practice of each employee that includes:

    • quarterly objectives and results in detail including revenue and satisfaction targets;
    • weekly snippets of each individual’s goals for the week;
    • up to the minute performance reviews, ratings, and bonus structures;
    • noted successes and failures, with notes for everyone to learn from;
    • career history at Qualtrics

How would you respond to those two questions? What do you think about radical transparency and engagement in business? I invited you to write a response in the comments.

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David Zinger is a global employee engagement expert scheduled to work in New York, Berlin, Mumbai, Delhi, and Chicago on employee engagement in the next 3 months. Contact David to bring the power of employee engagement to your work, organization, or team:

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