The workplace wish-list

2007

American workers have a very simple wish-list. They want to be paid more, they want better healthcare coverage and, above all, they want greater respect from their managers.

A study of more than 1,200 U.S workers by workplace consultancy Kronos and pollster Harris International to coincide with Labor Day has identified what it is American workers most desire from their employers.

Top of the list is healthcare provision, with the employees polled saying a comprehensive healthcare benefits programme is one of the top three reasons for them staying put with an employer.

Comprehensive healthcare coverage is also the benefit employees who do not have it most want, even more so than a competitive salary, the survey found.

"Because companies are in a constant battle to retain the best and the brightest talent, we feel these findings are important for organisations to consider when implementing changes within their environment," said Jim Kizielewicz, vice-president of corporate strategy at Kronos.

The Working in America study also found clear evidence that many workers are deeply dissatisfied with their employment.

Benefits programs are one of the key drivers of employee satisfaction

Nearly two thirds – some 62 per cent – were either actively or passively looking for a new job.

A company's employee benefits programme was one of the key drivers of employee satisfaction and, therefore, retention rates, the survey added.

Beyond healthcare coverage, a competitive salary, a good bonus programme and perks such as a compressed working week were given a high priority by employees.

Other popular workplace perks included access to an occupational pension and full tuition reimbursement.

When it came to workload, the survey found that, in the past six months, more than six out of 10 workers had experienced an increase in their responsibilities or workload.

Yet just four out of 10 had received a raise in that same time period, an eight per cent decrease on the same poll last year.

In addition to benefits, the survey found that among employees with five or more years of service under their belts, more than a quarter appreciated feeling rewarded and inspired in their job and considered this to be a leading reason to stay with their current employer.

Yet nearly a fifth of those with fewer than five years of tenure had resigned from a job for that very reason, because they felt unappreciated.

Worryingly, nearly a third of those polled said they were not satisfied with their current employer, and that being treated with respect was one of the top ways an employer could improve their satisfaction rating.

Among those with fewer than five years of tenure with a single employer, 15 per cent felt they did not get the respect they deserved. More than a tenth also felt their employer did not communicate well with them.

"The survey reveals what most working families knew already: the American workforce is taking on more responsibilities and longer hours. Moreover, their contribution is showing up on the firm's bottom line and in the nation's productivity accounts," explained Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

"Too often, however, it is not showing up in their paycheck or benefits package. Along with competitive pay, employees are clearly looking for increased fringe benefits, most importantly, healthcare.

"Employers who recognise and respond to these needs will be rewarded with stronger employee relationships and a more dedicated workforce," he added.