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Qualities workers desire most from their companies

By Peter Theuri | November 14th 2021
By Peter Theuri | November 14th 2021

Employees of Nairobi City County protesting outside City Hall Cash office on October 13, 2021. [Samson Wire, Standard]

When football players ditch their clubs and seek new challenges, they often cite the new club’s ambitions as one of their main motivations. Higher wages and other perks are also seen as bait and, truly, everyone wants to earn better.

It seems these are the main things other professionals consider as well when seeking employment.

Career platform BrighterMonday in its Kenya Employee Satisfaction report, says employees are keen to seek opportunities in companies that not only promise their individual well-being but which look stable and ambitious.

Among external traits - factors that employees desire and yearn for in an ideal workplace - strong, relatable company values and goals come first.

"These are imperative in aligning and motivating employees to achieve both organisational and personal goals. They are essential to the company’s identity and purpose,” reads the report, which took into account opinions of 1,760 respondents from across the job-market spectrum.

Employees also look out for open and effective management, which “ensures that the organisation runs smoothly”, and for which reason management needs to be “clear, consistent and thorough in their approach”.

Further, BrighterMonday notes that prioritising health and wellness among employees is crucial as it promotes productivity and reduces absenteeism, fatigue and stress among the employees.

And with a world fast-spinning away from conventional jobs to the gig economy, and with disruption of the workplace rhythm by Covid-19, workers now more than ever appreciate flexibility.

"This factor (flexibility) enables work-life balance that fosters a better quality of life for employees as well as mental and physical wellness, which reduces unplanned and unwanted absenteeism.”

The final of the five most important external factors workers look for in a company is transparent performance management.

"This is a key factor in creating a dynamic workplace, thus company strategies should ensure that transparency is at the core when conducting performance management,” reads the BrighterMonday Survey.

Other key factors that workers consider in the external environment are mentoring and coaching, remote working options, effective working tools, diversity and inclusion and training and development.

Internally, a competitive package leads in the list of considerations for employees. The better the pay the higher the chances of attracting top professionals, and subsequently achieving top results.

"A salary that is equal to or higher than the industry standard is a vital determining factor for employee motivation and overall morale,” the report reads.

The financial stability of a company also comes into sharp focus, with a company's financial state and well-being imperative especially during the pandemic “as employees have more financial responsibilities to attend to”.

Companies that have avenues that support employees’ growth are also attractive, with that report noting that employees continuously set goals for where they envision their career going.

And in the case where an employer is likely to guarantee an employee’s job security, the employer is more likely to be satisfied and thus become more productive.

"Employees need to know their job's security status because they have responsibilities, hence the higher the job security level, the better,” the research finds. Factors such as social security and health insurance among others, also help in simplifying employees' lives, they affect their peace of mind and overall well-being.

Nelson Mandela, the founder and CEO of Logical Clothing, says that when he started his business five years ago, he was a strict manager who had problems retaining employees.

"Although I had learnt management in school, I had a problem handling the workers and coordinating work,” he says.

Experience, usually the profoundly painstaking teacher, showed him how to handle employees and he created a family out of his employees.

“I am never a boss in the office. I am only a boss when making decisions. Sometimes, I will buy lunch and sit in with them,” he says. “We have a local welfare arrangement where we contribute and help in case of an unforeseen event.”

He also allows them freedom of expression where they always find it easy to tell him what is troubling them. The net effect of the accommodativeness was a rapid increase in output, all eight of the employees comfortable at work and performing optimally.

“I created a family. When employees are free to explain their issues, they can tell you what is bugging them and you can help so that they are at work and are being productive,” he says.

Ebrima Fatty, founder and CEO of e-commerce firm AfricaSokoni, says that constantly engaging employees and keeping them informed of the strategic direction of the company helps them stay focused.

"We also involve them in the strategy formulation process. We also provide a platform to channel grievances, suggestion, and ideas,” he says.

The company also takes care of the employees’ training and development needs.

"We also strive to build a culture of creativity, innovation and experimentation, and allow them to try ideas; and at the same time making them know it's acceptable to make mistakes while they experiment and learn from such failures,” Fatty says.

Caring about the employees beyond the professional sphere, by being concerned about their personal problems and challenges, makes them part of the AfricaSokoni family and makes sure, says Fatty, that employees are increasingly interested and productive.

"As organisations continue to navigate the new world of work, employee satisfaction remains a fundamental aspect in the workplace,” reads the BrighterMonday report.

"Employee satisfaction is imperative because most employees spend a significant portion of their life working, hence job satisfaction has its impact on their general life as a highly satisfied employee has a better overall well-being, which fosters productivity." 

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