How To Be A Desirable Employer
Ngeow Yeok Meng

The biggest challenge for professional human resource personnel is not to hire (or fire) the right person, but to find ways to keep the best people stay and be happy in the company.

Today, the high unemployment rate plus retrenchment in
Malaysia has reduced much of HR personnel's workload. However, this does not mean they should sit back and relax until the next economic boom when the job market becomes tight again. While many Malaysian companies are still making headlines with layoffs, dedicated HR personnel should seriously think of how to retain the best employees as means to prepare for the worst.

In a survey carried out by the American Management Association and the Saratoga Institute, many
US companies have lost competency after losing many talented people who are dissatisfied, either with the work environment or the nature of the work itself.

For HR personnel who would like to turn your company into a desirable workplace, here is a checklist on how to make employees love your company:

In terms of benefits

  • cash bonuses for longevity
  • pay raise based on performance
  • good profit sharing plans
  • retirement fund
  • stock option plans
  • full benefits for part-timers
  • on-site child-care center
  • on-site area for sports and leisure
  • free meal or refreshments
  • scholarship for children of staff members
  • no-layoff policy at bad times
  • subsidized healthcare insurance
  • free annual health check

In terms of self-advancement

  • the chance to change career within the same company
  • overseas training or assignment
  • the promise of promotion from within
  • the competition for talent and excellence
  • being able to learn, grow and have fun
  • balancing work and family needs
  • balancing work and play
  • lots of empowerment
  • teamwork
  • opportunity to work with the brainy
  • commitment to continuing education

In terms of work condition

  • healthy work environment
  • a cafeteria and many health foods to reduce stress
  • constant praise from co-workers and superiors
  • close work relationship with colleagues
  • insignificant office politicking, or none at all
  • low rate of turnover
  • putting people before profits
  • no discrimination of women
  • no discrimination of the minority
  • company interest is always placed above self-interest
  • reminder to laborious workers to take a good rest

In terms of flexibility

  • flexible or reduced work hours
  • no time clocks
  • no strict work rules
  • practice self-discipline
  • allowing unpaid leave for vacation
  • profit-sharing plan
  • higher flexibility for dedicated employees
  • offer work for students, homemakers and retirees

In terms of universal values

  • environmental friendly
  • consciousness about helping local community
  • stress on social responsibility
  • voluntary community services
  • freedom to show one's personality
  • believe that all human beings are equal
  • value people more than just performance at work

In the US, some Fortune 500 companies even offer these benefits to employees

  • nursing-home-care insurance for spouses, parents, and grandparents (Hewlett-Packard)
  • stock-option plans turning more than 1,000 employees into millionaires (Intel)
  • a workplace where subordinates and superiors are friends (Motorola)
  • ten paid hours a month for community work (Fannie Mae)
  • moving responsibility down to lower levels (Shell Oil)

And the list goes on. An important lesson learnt from this survey is that employees should be seen as "individuals" rather than "workers". They are individuals with different needs and priorities in life. They are master of themselves, who have the right to decide how these needs can be satisfied without affecting their priorities. Thus, knowing employees personally gives a clearer picture of what they need other than a job.

What HR personnel can do is to accommodate these individuals' needs with the company's agenda, look for the solution and implement it with confidence that it is the best for both. When employees are well-rewarded for who they are as well as what they do, it is time to offer them even more benefits and flexibility. And be surprised when you see the results for yourself.