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What Was Most Important to Employees in the Workplace Over the Years 2017-2021, and What Changed as a Result of the Coronavirus

Based on a survey conducted by CofaceBDI and The Marker magazine.

You can find links to related articles at the end.

Every year, CofaceBDI and The Marker magazine conduct a survey, on the topic "the 100 best companies to work at in Israel". The top 10 spots in the last survey were filled (in descending order) by Microsoft, Direct Insurance, Aerial Industry, Applied Materials, SAP, Strauss, Cyberark, the National Electric Company, HaPoalim Bank, and Google (you can see the full survey results here).

The survey had about 150 thousand participants, and also uses internal surveys by the above companies.

The survey then asked 2,000 participants to rank the parameters according to their importance. You can see the results in a chart below, taken from The Marker magazine from May 2021.

What's Important in the Workplace?

Despite the natural curiosity regarding which company went up or down in the ranking, this time I'll focus on two other points:

  • What were the parameters ranked as most important, and how was this affected by the global pandemic?
  • Are hi-tech companies different from other sectors, and if so how?

Let's look at the chart showing the surveys' results over time:

Ranking

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

1

Work Relationships

Work Relationships

Work Relationships

Work Relationships

Salary

2

Direct Manager

Salary

Salary

Salary

Work Relationships

3

Stability

Direct Manager

Direct Manager

Stability

Stability

4

Salary

Professional Challenge

Professional Challenge

Direct Manager

Professional Challenge

5

Self Fulfillment

Self Fulfillment

Self Fulfillment

Self Fulfillment

Professional Advancement

6

Professional Challenge

Stability

Stability

Professional Challenge

Company's Resilience

7

Professional Advancement

Professional Advancement

Professional Advancement

Professional Advancement

Flexible Hours

8

Company's Resilience

Company's Resilience

Company's Resilience

Company's Resilience

Social Cohesion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Parameters Were Ranked Highest in the Last Year?

  • It's worth noting that "workplace relationships" has stayed in the top spot for the last four years.
  • The two main changes in this year's survey are:
    • "Salary" has been downgraded from second place, where it's been for the previous three years, to fourth place.
    • "Stability" moved up from sixth place, where it's been for the previous two years, to third place.
  • Two other changes were the continued climb of "satisfaction with the direct manager" up the ranking, and the downgrading of "professional challenge".

Why Some Employees Don't Come Back from Furlough

There have been claims, with some truth in them, that people don't come back to work after being furloughed. But we must remeber that things aren't the same in all workplaces.

Let's look at some facts:

  • Some companies didn't fire or furlough employees.
  • Some companies had no problems bringing people back.
  • Some businesses, such as shops or restaurants, closed and had to furlough employees.
  • Some companies kept working but still furloughed employees. Some intended for employees not to come back. A sort of easy firing. Without looking the person you're firing in the eyes.
  • Some companies fought tooth and nail to keep all employees on through lockdowns and closures.
  • Some employees had to ask to be furloughed because schools closed down and they had to stay home with their kids. In this case, 70% of furloughed employees were women (you can read more about this here, as well as in the referenced The Marker article).

I'm sure that employees who saw that their company values them in diffucult times, returned to work motivated.

Despite the fact that some employees would rather stay furloughed, it's not surprising that stability was ranked so highly by the survey's participants.

In an article I wrote when the pandemic had just started, I discussed the opportunity it presented to get employees invested in company goals, instead of treating it as a chance to get rid of employees.

I wasn't a prophet who saw something no one else did. I met several CEOs and HR managers who worked to keep employees on, realising that how they treat employees during hard times influences how their employees treat the company in return.

On the other hand, quite a few CEOs acted in an opposite manner, and didn't consider employees, as things got more and more challenging.

So it's not surprising that "salary" was ranked lower than "stability" this year.

Last year, in addition to a survey among employees, The Marker magazine also conducted a survey among 140 HR managers from leading companies.

That was a short time after the pandemic entered our life. And 44% of participants reported having furloughed employees.

72% of those HR managers said then that, in their opinion, the most important thing for employees during the pandemic is having a workplace to return to.

What Can We Learn About the Importance of Work Relationships and Managers?

Unsurprisingly, "stability" rose from sixth to third place in the ranking. But still, we can see that work relationships are still the most important parameter, for the fourth year in a row. And this year's survey showed the rising importance of the direct manager in people's experiences - from third to second place.

This is all very natural, as experiences of being furloughed, closing workplaces, and an uncertain future - emphasized the need, even the yearning, for stability.

But when people are at work, they constantly experience work relationships or their direct manager.

Jack Welch, who was CEO and chairman of GE for over twenty years, managing thousands of employees, wrote (in his book Winning) about the importance of the human element in every company, pointing to employees as the most important aspect, and managing employees as the most important job.

This simple truth is unknown in most of the Israeli companies I’m familiar with.

In examining the dozens of Israeli companies I know well - less than 40% have an HR manager. Those that do are mostly the large or very large ones.

Most CEOs don't understand what a HR manager does, or see why they should employ one, even part time.

Without a HR manager who focuses on getting employees invested on company goals (with everything that implies), and increasing motivation - who would monitor work relationships and how direct managers treat their employees? If work relationships and satisfaction with managers are the two most important parameters for employees, and you have no one responsible and accountable for them - what does that say about your company's ability to get employees invested?

Hi-Tech and All the Rest

For the previous three years, "salary" was ranked second, and that changed this year, when it was ranked lower at number four. But that wasn’t the case in all industries.

The hi-tech sector was polled separately.

The Marker magazine pointed out that this sector employs 10% of all Israeli employees, and in it the average salary is 25,598 NIS a month (as opposed to 11,953 NIS a month in all other sectors).

You can see below the parameters as they were ranked by hi-tech employees, by age group:

Ranking

All Sectors

Hi-Tech 

 

All

35 and Under

36-45

46 and Over

1

Work Relationships

Work Relationships

Salary

Work Relationships

Work Relationships

2

Direct Manager

Salary

Work Relationships

Salary

Professional Challenge

3

Stability

Professional Challenge

Professional Challenge

Direct Manager

Stability

4

Salary

Direct Manager

Direct Manager

Professional Challenge

Salary

5

Self Fulfillment

Self Fulfillment

Self Fulfillment

Self Fulfillment

Self Fulfillment

6

Professional Challenge

Stability

Professional Challenge

Stability

Direct Manager

7

Professional Advancement

Professional Advancement

Stability

Professional Advancement

Company's Resilience

8

Company's Resilience

Flexible Hours

Flexible Hours

Flexible Hours

Professional Advancement

For young hi-tech employees,"salary" is most important, while "stability" the least important.

I meet them at work, and I have to remind myself that the world is changing quickly. They have high salaries and move from job to job much like the bee flits from flower to flower.

What's Important for Generation Y?

It's not that they're not commited, but rather that they have different values and are committed to different things.

When Noam Bardin left Waze after twelve years as its CEO, he took to Twitter with a contraversioal thread.

I recommend you read the whole thing, it's very interesting.

Noam Bardin is undoubtedly very talented, but I think he failed in understanding Generation Y.

For example, he wrote about his outrage at missed deadlines because of yoga classes. He attacked the young generation, and they retaliated online.

The problem isn't the high salaries or the importance they attach to it, nor the sushi lunches with which they've become bored (according to Bardin). The heart of the issue is that they have different values and are committed to different things.

I think that, had they been given an open survey, to fill in any value they chose (and not a set list of eight parameters) "salary" wouldn't have been ranked first.

Older Hi-Tech Employees

Note how for older hi-tech employees, "salary" was ranked fourth, as it was in other sectors.

To a large extent, we see here supply and demand, and there's a great lack of young hi-tech employees.

Summary and Recommendations

Hi-tech and its high salaries is no more than a story for most people, and a matter for CEOs and HR managers in the industries to grapple with.

But for other sectors things are different.

The upheaval caused by the pabademic, affecting companies and mostly employees, increased the importance of smart and correct management of employees,

Again and again, I hear how salary is the most important parameter for employees, and the best motivator.

And if in previous years "salary" was ranked second in the The Marker survey, after work relationships, this year it dropped to fourth place, with "stability" and "the direct manager" above it.

I return to Jack Welch and his assertion that people, employees, are the most important factor in a company's success, and their management the most important job.

If you want to succeed in business, make sure you have a good HR manager, and manage your employees in a way that engages them with company goals and motivates them.

Related Articles

  1. What Has the Coronavirus Taught Us, and Which Lessons Should We Remember Moving Forwards?
  2. The Coronavirus Benefited Some Businesses – How to Leverage Good Luck, And Bad Luck
  3. Sales and Marketing During and After the Coronavirus Crisis
  4. The Coronavirus Crisis is a Great Opportunity to Engage Employees with Company Goals
  5. What to Do During the Coronavirus Crisis
  6. The Cost of Work-From-Home and Zoom Meetings

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