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How Should We Address the Interrelated Issues of Pay, Career Growth and Work Flow?

February 1, 2012

Dear Feeling Powerless:

Address all these issues at once because they are intertwined with employee engagement. The top two drivers of engagement are recognition and career development, HR Solutions International Inc. says.

Establish a formal recognition program to ensure that employees are properly and effectively recognized for their efforts. Whether a personal handwritten thank-you note or a gift card, these emblems of recognition help employees get more engaged.

Encourage your managers to meet with individual employees they supervise to obtain a clear understanding of each person's desired career path. This will help managers identify employees' professional development goals, create career advancement plans accordingly and monitor their progress.

Interestingly, pay is not one of the top 10 engagement drivers for employees. Offering a competitive salary is very important; however, pay motivates people differently than other drivers of engagement. In general, employees want to be compensated fairly for their work. If they are taking on a heavier workload with more difficult projects, they would likely expect additional compensation for their efforts.

This seems to tie to your particular situation. Part of this compensation could be monetary, but oftentimes public and private recognition is equally important. A promotion that includes a title change may be as meaningful, if not more so, than increasing a person's salary.

In addition, a great deal of employee opinion on pay revolves around perceptions of fairness. If employees believe they work harder and produce a higher quality of work than a specific co-worker, they will very likely hope to make more money than that co-worker.

Oftentimes, pay satisfaction can be improved without actually increasing pay. To improve perceptions of pay, organizations must define their compensation philosophy and clearly communicate it. Sharing accurate market data with your employees about pay scales for similar jobs and salary increases compared to other organizations is critical.

Acting on employee feedback provided is pivotal to bringing lasting positive change and also to demonstrate to employees that their opinions matter. I strongly encourage your organization to develop action plans to address employees' concerns. In addition, conducting a pulse survey a few months after action plans are implemented to monitor their progress is a wise decision. The brief survey can be used as a follow-up tool to maintain your organization's accountability. By devoting time, effort and resources to shore up trouble spots, your organization is on its way to higher engaging employees engagement, customer service and staff retention.

SOURCE: Kevin A. Sheridan, Avatar HR Solutions Inc., Chicago

LEARN MORE: Please read "Companies Pushing Workers Over the Limit" on the recession's effect on engagement.

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.