Although society increasingly expects business leaders to be honest, that alone is not enough to attract the most talented employees. Honest employees will of course gravitate to companies with reputations for integrity. But how do those companies attract top performers?
You must successfully project a model of how talent and honesty can work together in the company.
Depending on the industry, the most talented employees want to join high-performance organizations that are at the forefront of their industry, either in terms of market innovation or market share. Still, these top guns want to be sure that they aren’t joining the next Enron. (Remember that Enron was an organization that prided itself on hiring only the best of the best to engage in the most challenging and "cutting-edge" work.)
So what do these employees look for? They’ll want to see how your leadership balances performance withethics. Successful leaders attract the best by demanding performance and integrity at the same time. One leader I have worked with takes pride in always being on the edge--always pushing his team to achieve more and push the envelope. But while he urges his team on, he is also as vociferous in demanding scrupulous compliance with the company’s standards. Thoughtful leaders in this era must be cognizant of the risks inherent in high performance.
And this point is not lost on employees and recruits. In data compiled by Business for Social Responsibility, a U.S. employee survey carried out in 2001 by Walker Information found that only 6 percent of employees who thought their senior management was unethical were inclined to stay with their companies, while 40 percent who believed their leaders were ethical wanted to stay.
Another study of U.S. workers carried out by the Aon Loyalty Institute in 2000 found that when employees do not feel they can trust management, giving them additional benefits has no significant effect on their commitment.
Another Aon survey in 2002 showed worker confidence in management had dropped to its lowest level since the survey began in 1997. On the bright side, onestudy by Watson Wyatt suggests that employees now trust senior management more than they did a couple of years ago.
Extensive anecdotal evidence suggests that employees have more positive feelings about themselves and their work--and demonstrate greater loyalty--when they work for a company they view as having good values and ethical practices.
SOURCE: David Gebler, president and founder,Working Values, Sharon, Massachusetts, December 27, 2004.
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The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.