Compensation is more than merely wage for work performed. While $$$ to pay the bills is important, an equally important element of compensation is job fulfillment.
A few years back, I (Doris) had a memorable conversation with one of the housekeeping staff at the University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics. “Anna” is always smiling. “Anna” loves keeping patients’ rooms clean and doing the little extras because, in her words, it’s trying enough for her patients to be in a hospital; she wanted their room to be pleasant. Part of her pay was making people’s days brighter.
Perhaps that’s why one of my favorite recruitment screening questions concerns which job or work situation the candidate found most fulfilling. No one ever responds, “My job at XYZ Company was my favorite because they paid me the most per hour and gave me a great compensation package”. Seriously. While they may have had to leave a job in part due to compensation, and rarely only due to compensation, generally the responses will fall into one or more of the following:
- I loved the diversity in the job and was always busy.
- I felt I made a difference.
- I like data entry and was able to enter a greater volume of numbers with little to no mistakes.
- I loved my co-workers and will miss them.
- I loved the challenge of meeting goals and achievement.
- My boss was wonderful and it was a pleasure to help her.
- I’m passionate about “xyz”.
Try asking your best workers what they like about working at your company! You’ll often find that, in addition to the $$$ in their pockets to pay the bills and in addition to the health and retirement benefits, there is something intrinsically rewarding about what they do. If there isn’t, you’ll lose them.
The Value of Training
It’s important for employees to realize that the training and experience they receive become a valuable part of their skill set. It goes with them when they leave. It’s important to know where the employee’s skill level is and consider what he/she needs to learn to become more valuable. Consider software programs, technical skills, people skills, and executive level thinking… Yes, we all get exhausted training and then seeing the person leave for better pastures. Part of the challenge for us as leaders is to make certain the employee is bringing improvements into the workplace that remain with you, the employer.
At a time when mass media and social media fixates on compensation as money only, it’s easy for those who are less mature to overlook the value of non-monetary compensation. Money can buy security; but fulfillment can buy a life worth living.