Discovering People


I s s u e  N u m b e r  F o u r

"Work hard, make the boss rich"

-graffiti on a Chippendale wall

The graffiti on the wall was unmistakable, a statement of dissent about a perceived out-of-control capitalist economy. There is no doubt that there are significant pressures on both employees and employers in an increasingly competitive economy. Often there seems to be a wide divide in rewards for management and employees. How do we cope with these perceptions both in ourselves and as a society?

1. What should our expectations be?

How much is my time and expertise worth in the workplace? This is the endless question for both employer and employee. It's answered in part by your work environment and the general economy. Some company structures offer more room to move than others. In a recession economy some companies have margins of operation which are so tight that many team members consider their retention of employment as far more important than the extra few dollars per week in the pocket after taxation. It is a question of honestly evaluating both my contribution and the company's attitude and financial position in realising my expectations. It is also about being realistic when setting personal goals and making decisions when to stay and when to move on.

2. How much is the boss worth?

Good question. In some of the large public companies there is considerable debate about the salary packages of Chief Executives and Directors. And this filters down in many minds through to middle sized and small companies, where the thought is that "The boss must be rich". Yet this is one of the tensions at the very heart of our current economic system. Many smaller company managers have their own assets at stake in running the company and although they look well off, a lot of them live on the edge of a huge overdraft and only a few months of trading either way to success or failure. For that risk, and for the risk of employing me, there has to be reward. Who would begrudge them that? If the boss is rich, at least they've got the money to keep me in a job.

3. What are the rewards of working life?

Money in the bank account at the end of every pay period is one reward of working life and perhaps the most obvious. The more subtle things about the office are the bonds and relationships which are formed over time. Often this is a second family. Although the emphasis in today's workplace seems to be on short term loyalties, there is an intimacy and sharing which develops in the office where we spend almost as much time as we do in our homes. To some, the office becomes a place of security and predictability in a moving world of political and economic change. To participate brings personal rewards such as increasing skill level, further education and forming strong relationships, etc. There should be in the workplace the encouragement of frank discussion about the rewards both in personal, financial, short and long term.

Think about yourself, the boss, the company and rewards.

What's in it for me and my contribution?

The place for a reward structure

The complexities of corporate life have taken on a new face. Not only are there the normal trading issues to deal with. Now we have the added burden of a new tax system which will (under political pressure) be a constantly changing and intricate government demand on business time and resources.
In the midst of these complexities it becomes important for management to keep a hold on the very thing that makes the organisation function every working day. The people who make up the organisation itself.
Even with the personal tax changes associated with the GST there are issues for each employee which will present themselves in the workplace. The added hours required by the company to fulfil government requirements, Add to this the pressure of an economic downturn, and this will contribute to tensions on both management and employee.
The manager with vision will appreciate loyal employees in a time of change and pressure and will, in turn, reward them for their labours. One expression of appreciation may be reward. Where the company can afford it in monetary terms. Where not, in appropriate time compensation, Or even something as simple as flowers or theatre tickets. All of us are human. We want reward. But think of creative ways to do it for yourself and your employees.

Quotes from the professions:

"Brand identity in the mind of the consumer is half the battle for your product's sales success. Clearly defined features and benefits makes for a more reasoned and loyal product choice in the marketplace."

-Geoff Holt, Director, Leonard Communications and Marketing

"It is important in any business large or small to have a human resources policy. Know why you employ people and what you want them to achieve. Write it down for your own benefit and the benefit of employees. Circulate the policy to staff. Most people want to do the right thing by their employer and it is easier if they know what the boss is looking for. Then be consistent. Conduct regular appraisals of the performance of staff in accordance with the published policy. That way good employees will be encouraged. Poor employees will not be surprised and will have no complaint when asked to move on."

-Rolf Howard, Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers

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