February 27, 2018

What Do Employees Really Want?

I recently wrote a piece on workforce development, and since that time I have had even more conversations that specifically point to this hole we are facing within our community. I feel the need to continue that blog post in a more in-depth way. A few of those meetings have included an owner of a construction company, owner of a cleaning company, several owners of restaurants, bankers and two managers of manufacturing plants. While they all come from very different industries, their needs are greatly similar. They are all trying to find the best employees while standing out from their competition by offering more money, more training and even paying for new employees to go back to school for a degree or to earn a skills certificate. I want to break each of these down to explain the unique opportunities I believe exist with each one.

More Money…

This one is hard for me, because I can easily see both sides. From the employee side, the wage sets so many other factors like where the employee can afford to live, what type of transportation they can have, if they can afford the appropriate attire for whatever position they hold and so on. If an employee has to have two or more jobs to make ends meet, money is likely the deciding factor. I've been that employee before and when you are the sole breadwinner, it often comes down to just that… money.  However, from the employer's side, the question to answer is whether or not paying more ultimately makes sense. What is the break-even for that employee’s training, uniform (if that applies), equipment, etc? Will their productivity really impact the employer's bottom line in order to outweigh those costs? An employer needs to know the net gain from each employee, and without that, paying more could cost much more than the dollar amount offered. More money always sounds good, and most employees are motivated by it, but the business needs to know if it makes sense as well as understand that other benefits can often outweigh a higher hourly wage or salary. I've seen some pretty impressive employment perks that weren't money that kept staff loyal and happy; so, take everything into consideration and don't over-value the increased rate.

More Training…

Having trained employees is such an important aspect of business ownership. It should be an ongoing and ever-changing aspect of your business. No matter your type of business, your established standards and mission are to be played out every day by your employees. If you are not constantly showing them those patterns of raising expectations and consistently giving outstanding customer service, your business will suffer. How many times have you read a review and even though you nothing about the person who posted the review, you instantly trust their bad review? I read a study that stated employees that have ongoing training programs and staff development are happier and more loyal. When you invest in your employees by way of training, it truly comes back to you ten-fold.

More Education…

We live in a great state that helps many people achieve their education goals ( We have many high school graduates who attend junior colleges or technical colleges for free through the TN Promise Program (  We also have a program called TN Reconnect ( which “helps more adults attend a community college or technical college to complete a postsecondary degree or credential, tuition-free”; this program was designed specifically to assist in fulfilling the job market demands of our region. These opportunities, especially the certification programs, provide specific training for jobs in high demand such as manufacturing, mechatronics, healthcare and many more. For employers needing trained employees, this program can save money and help you find highly qualified candidates for vacant positions. Offering these types of incentives for new-hires can set your firm apart from your competition with little monetary investment on your end; it's definitely a win-win solution.

The bottom line is there are many ways to “skin” the proverbial employment “cat”, but finding the one that helps your particular business can be tricky. Take these suggestions and others you come across to help you stand above your competition. Need help strategizing? Call me! I would love the opportunity to help.

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