Here’s a pop quiz for managers.

Rank the following thirteen factors in order of importance to the people who work for you:

  • Work with people who treat me with respect
  • Interesting work
  • Being recognized for doing good work
  • Having opportunities to develop my skills
  • Working for people who listen to you when you have ideas for making things better
  • Being able to think for myself, not just carry out instructions
  • Seeing the end results of my work
  • Working for a manager who is efficient
  • Having a job that’s not too easy
  • Being well-informed about what’s going on in my company
  • Job security
  • High pay
  • Good benefits

Quick — what item did you rank as #1?  #2?  Which one was last?

Did you focus on pay, benefits and job security as being most important?

Many managers do.

But if you left them in exactly the order listed above, you got them right, according to a study done by the Public Agenda Foundation and referenced in the book Re-Inventing the Corporation, authored by John Nasbitt and Patricia Aburdene.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute!  That book was published in 1985. That’s SO yesterday.”  Except that it’s not.  More recent studies yield similar results. A study on how to attract and retain Gen Y workers conducted by Robert Half International and Yahoo! HotJobs in 2008 stated the following,

Survey respondents ranked working with a boss they can respect and learn from as the most important aspect of their work environment.

“Working with people I enjoy’ and having ‘work/life balance’ rounded out the top three responses.”  Other studies show that although people will tell their boss that they’re leaving to take another job for better pay, when given the opportunity to speak confidentially, the majority of people reveal that they took another job for the intangibles — more respect and appreciation, more interesting work, a more collaborative work environment or the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution.

Are pay, benefits and job security important to us as employees?

Yes, absolutely.  But the “you’re lucky to have a job” approach to managing people doesn’t serve the best interests of any employer. Employee engagement requires more just a competitive compensation package and steady employment.  The kind of employee engagement that makes a difference in customer service, employee productivity, innovation, teamwork, goal accomplishment and other critical factors required for a company to succeed in today’s challenging marketplace can be created only when managers cultivate a workplace built on respect, trust, appreciation and two-way communication.

Do you want to be a respected leader and valued manager?

Then ask your employees for suggestions on how to improve on the first ten items in the list at the beginning of this post.  Make it an ongoing dialogue. Work together.  You’ll see for yourself, the basics still count.

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