HUMAN RESOURCES

Are American Workers Wimps?

FaxPoll results on finding good employees employee expectations.
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Yes! That was your overwhelming response when we asked this question in our debut FaxPoll last October. In no uncertain terms, you told us that good employees are hard to find and harder to keep -- and most of you laid the blame squarely on today's American worker.

Is it harder than ever to find good employees?
Yes 80%

No 20

Why?

Employer can't find 78%

people who are willing

to work hard

Many of you commented that today's workers expect too much for too little: "Their expectations outrun their qualifications," said one. "They're just out for themselves," said another. "They don't take responsibility."

Though in the minority, several of you took vocal exception to this, instead accusing American managers of abdicating their roles as leaders: "American management, not the American worker, is at the root of our problems!" and "It sure is popular for the yuppie manager to pick on the American worker."

Interestingly, even paradoxically, it seemed to be this minority viewpoint that was reflected in most of your companies' policies. Although you clearly believe that what U.S. employees bring to the party leaves a lot to be desired, you just as clearly accept the responsibility of improving that situation by offering more and better training and better-tailored benefits packages.

* * *

How is your company trying to find and keep good people?

Offer more training 51%

Provide more information 41

about your business

Be more flexible 40

Hire and fire until you 35

find the right person

Offer more compensation 30

Ask less of employees 8

Only a combined 65% (on many questions, respondents gave multiple answers) see a solution in repeated hiring and firing or in increased compensation, while more than twice as many of you opt for improved training and communication and greater flexibility on the part of the employer. One summed it up this way: "Managers think they cannot take the time or resources to add to their employees' professional growth. Fact is, they cannot afford not to."

In this regard most of you put your money and time where your mouths are, and offer a benefits package that combines compensation incentives with a more flexible work environment.

Which of the following does your company offer workers?
Incentive compensation 62%

Flextime 46

Maternity leave `35

Cafeteria-style benefits 21

Job sharing 18

Work at home 17

Stock or options 13

Day care 4

Profit sharing 4

A company's size, as measured by number of employees, is a strong indicator here of what a benefits package might look like. Smaller companies are more likely to use nonfinancial incentives like flextime (65% of companies with 5 or fewer employees versus 37% of those with 100 or more) and work-at-home options (20% versus 10%), while larger companies are more likely to go with stock options (7% versus 28%) and cafeteria-style benefits (13% to 31%). Companies with 100 or more employees are far more likely to offer maternity leave (65%) than those with 10 or fewer (13%). For companies of all sizes, incentive compensation is frequently offered (62%), while day care is scarce (4%).

In which age group are workers most willing and able to provide a day's work for a day's pay?
18-25 6%

26-35 26

36-45 38

46-55 23

Over 55 6

No surprises here. While most of you showed some favoritism to your own age group, you strongly subscribe to the conventional notion that workers are most productive in their so-called prime, ages 36 to 45. But are you missing an opportunity here? Are good workers in the under-25 and over-55 categories being overlooked? They might have the solution to some of your problems: young workers are eminently trainable; older workers are often highly skilled and disciplined -- and compensation may be a secondary consideration for both groups.

Last updated: Jan 1, 1992




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