I had an interesting chat with a recruitment candidate last year.
Candidate: “I only have one more question… I’m easily excited by new things, and thus I wanted to ask how would you feel if I decide to pursue a new interest after 3 years and resign?”
I was a bit surprised by this question, so the candidate continued: “I’m asking this now because I feel that this has previously caused some unnecessary drama.”
Sakari: “Well, as a human being I hate losing a cool workmate. However from the company’s view point this is a clear matter. We are even every month. You do your best at work and the company pays for it monthly. Thus there is no good reason why you couldn’t go towards a new challenge with good conscience. Rather, if you get a new opportunity to grow somewhere else, we can celebrate it a bit as work mates.”
There’s a lot of talk about the corporate or employer brand, but what about the employee image?
By employee image I’m not referring to an expert’s personal brand, rather I’m referring to the company’s understanding of the modern employee and their needs. Following the news, I get a feeling that many companies are not even trying to understand the mental landscape of today’s specialist employee.
While the company systematically improves the employer brand, it seems they forget to update the employee image of the manager and supervisor.
THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE MODERN EXPERT AND EMPLOYEE IMAGE
Sometimes in the public discussions it still sounds like the employee should be very grateful to the mighty employer. At the same time everyone knows, that the best employees work wherever they want to. There’s a conflict between here, yet both sentences are true in today’s society.
In general, experts are knowledgeable and want to improve themselves. Naturally they seek to maximize their work environment’s pleasantness and professional challenges, without forgetting a fair compensation. Experts born in the 1990s might not even care about corporate titles or comparing salaries with their work mates, and instead they focus on personally meaningful work and their own growth. In an ideal world, personal growth is naturally followed by a comparable growth in compensation.
At the other end of the spectrum the employers curse their employees for human errors and missing initiative, while not even trying to understand the demands or ecosystem of a given work role. Employee must bring results, even if the only provided tool is a spoon without instructions. A corporation’s health may be tracked by purely numerical metrics, like a division’s revenue, even if it causes the nearest superiors to undervalue empathy.
TRAPS IN THE WORK LIFE
There are several defects in an expert’s work life. While younger experts are searching for their ideal environment, where they could focus on personal growth and co-operation with the client, traditional corporations have irrational traditions and political catch-22’s.
Right now in Finland there’s public discussion on the non-compete terms in employment contracts. They are becoming more common and causing inflexibility in the work market, says Akava. A while ago there was news about the new CEO of Tokmanni (Finnish), who almost couldn’t take the new job because of his non-compete clause.
Non-compete clauses are relatively transparent and a visible risk to employees. Some other things are a lot harder to define, like fair compensation. If employees work in a black box without knowledge of the value of their work or of their role’s positioning in the company, it is difficult for any employee to define their own fair compensation.
We established Kompozure in 2011 as a work place for premium experts. Yet we have never had a non-compete term in our employment contracts. I do not think that it has harmed us. I think it is the opposite. When everyone knows that there are no contractual impediments for employee movement, it is clear the personnel stay in the company because they feel good doing so. This is a good signal when building a lasting company.
Our employee churn is relatively low. In the Great Place to Work (Finnish) -competition we were the 5th, the highest position amongst the companies joining the race for the first time. In addition, during the last 2 years we’ve been in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Finland list (2016 9th and 2017 20th) and in both of the Kauppalehti’s Success and Growth lists.
Fairness in the work place affects everyone. In our minds, the best tool to promote fairness is transparency. When everyone has a clear picture of the state of the company as well as their own role in building the enterprise, it is easy for everyone to notice defects and improve working conditions.
Transparency can be influenced in many ways. We’ve got good experience of a general, monthly meeting, where we, for example, walk through all new and potential cases. We’ve also built an open salary formula that affects everyone.
These methods above have been reflected by the Great Place to Work-race as well, when all Kompozureans answered the question about the fairness of pay with “100% fair”. As a comparison, the best companies last year had an average of 81%.
It is always easy to shout from a hot dog stand like ours, but I’m still challenging my CEO colleagues to drive more free employment contracts and more transparent information sharing internally.
By letting a larger crew see and influence possible faults in working conditions, you can only improve the company. When you trust a person, she strives to be worth the trust.
And what happened with the recruitment candidate I spoke about? Of course he joined us, and I couldn’t be happier with his results 🙂