116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Business News / Columns
On Topic: Wrong again - employers, employees differ on retainment
We think we're so smart. But life and work keep tapping us on the shoulder to remind us we're not as clever as we think.
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I bought a freezer, something Lisa has been contemplating for as long as we've been married. Probably longer.
As we lugged the appliance out to the parking lot, the hardware store clerk said, 'You know, this isn't going to fit in your car.”
I gave him what I hoped was a knowing look and replied, 'I've gotten much bigger things in here.”
Only last autumn, for example, I'd hauled across town a five-and-a-half-by-four-and-a-half-foot painting that I'd had framed as a surprise wedding-anniversary present, precariously strapped into the trunk with clothesline rope.
As I was tying one final Eagle Scout knot in the clothesline to hold the print more or less in place for the journey, the gallery owner was evidently nervous about this enterprise.
'Don't worry,” I said. 'I've done far more stupid things than this.”
He gave one final look at the fine work he'd done on the frame, then dashed back into his store so he wouldn't have to see what might happen next.
But on this recent Sunday, once we lifted the freezer up and jostled it around, I discovered the clerk was right. It didn't fit. Not in the trunk, nor in the back seat.
'Well, maybe if we take the freezer out of its box ...
,” Lisa suggested.
The clerk - who clearly resigned himself to not arguing the point - pulled out a knife and sliced away the packing box.
It still didn't fit.
That's when it occurred to me that this car, which I'd purchased during the past winter, had a different-shaped trunk than the late-model vehicle I'd been driving since Bill Clinton was president. This trunk, though bigger on the inside, was more scooped out, or less open. Or something.
In any case, I conceded we were going to have to pay to have the larger-than-it-looked freezer delivered.
And worse, I was wrong about being able to transport the thing home in our car.
Now here comes a pair of surveys that contend maybe we're mistaken about a number of our beliefs on the job, too.
New York City-based professional-services consulting company Towers Watson polled some 32,000 employees worldwide - 6,014 in the United States - and concluded that what employees think and what their supervisors think those employees think are very different.
For example, bosses and workers rated pay and career advancement as their top two reasons why employees stick around. But in slots three through five, employees picked confidence in those managers, job security and how long it takes them to get to work.
Employers, however, didn't name any of those factors in their top 10 assumptions as to why employees remain loyal.
Another troubling statistic that cropped up was that about 41 percent of employees believed they'd have to look elsewhere if they wanted career advancement.
Here's another: Employees - when asked what attracted them to the company in the first place - named pay, job security and advancement opportunities.
But employers cited a different lineup, picking career opportunities and then pay for their top two. Job security? Bosses put that in seventh place.
This issue of job security in particular is a surprise. For so long we've thought younger employees, the millennials, were ready to bolt at the drop of a hat or the rumor of midafternoon Frappuccino breaks with the next job offer.
In a 'Dilbert” comic strip just a few weeks ago, Dilbert's boss asks him to show a new 20-something-year-old employee the mandatory online training. In the same panel, the employee says: 'I quit.”
'With talent mobility on the rise, employers need to understand what employees value if they are to succeed in attracting and retaining employees,” said Towers Watson's Laura Sejen when the results were released late last month.
'While employers recognize the importance of pay and career advancements as key reasons employees choose to join and stay with a company, they don't place the same importance on another top attraction and retention driver - job security - or a key retention driver - trust and confidence in senior leadership.”
If these survey results are valid, on some basic issues we supervisors don't get what employees really care about. Or maybe we do, but our priorities might be mixed up.
And when the national economy truly starts to pick up steam, aligning these divergent viewpoints could become vital to attracting and holding on to talented folk.
It'll be as if we're all stuck in the parking lot, trying to figure out how the heck we're going to lug this giant heap of appliance home.
' Michael Chevy Castranova is Sunday editor of The Gazette. (319) 398-5873; email@example.com