What matters most to employees?
he Workplace Dynamics survey asked thousands of Tampa Bay area employees a series of questions then ranked them according to importance.
At the very top was the direction in which a business was headed. A high percentage of workers in the top places to work said they believed their organizations were heading in the "right" direction, that they were confident in their leaders and that the business had strong values and ethics.
Almost sharing the top spot in importance was workers' belief that they feel "genuinely appreciated" at their jobs.
Right behind in importance was a belief by employees that they had good career opportunities and were provided with the kind of training to help them get ahead.
Workers also said it was important to feel like they worked for well-run organizations, that senior managers knew what was going on, that things got done efficiently and that everyone was well informed about decisions at work.
Questions about fairness of pay and quality of benefits proved to be of less importance overall.
"It means that pay and benefits are not good predictors of what's important in a top workplace," explains Doug Claffey, co-founder and CEO at Workplace Dynamics, the survey partner with the St. Petersburg Times.
The results are similar to what Claffey's firm found when it conducted similar metro- or state-specific surveys with other newspapers across the country, including the Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News.
Claffey sometimes compares pay and benefits to the table stakes in poker — you have to ante them up just to get into the game.
Was there anything that stood out in the Tampa Bay survey? "Work-life flexibility" grew in importance, he says, probably because the survey was conducted in late 2009 amid significant economic turmoil.
Given high unemployment, many people are holding on to their current jobs whether they like them or not. Claffey says the payoff of a business with a top workplace is that far fewer employees who like where they work will choose to leave when the economy picks up. And that, he says, is a powerful competitive advantage.