Would You Pay .5% of Your Salary to Employ Your CEO?

Let’s say you make $50,000. That means you would pay $250 annually to keep your CEO employed.

Are you willing to do that?

That’s, on average, how much each employee of a Fortune 500 company pays for their corporate F500 CEO in terms of the executive compensation of a CEO. Now, I know you don’t really pay any money out of your check to your CEO, directly. But, if your company wasn’t paying your CEO millions of dollars, could they be paying you a little more?

Or, do you believe the compensation your CEO is making is giving you, and all the other stakeholders of your organization, a good return on your investment?

A new study is out that looks at this issue:

How much a typical employee of the S&P500 firms implicitly “contributes” to the salary of his/her CEO? An amount of $273 on average or 0.5% of one’s salary, that is, one half of one percent on an individual salary basis. To assess whether such a contribution is worthwhile, one must determine the value of the CEO for the organization and its workers and stakeholders.

I love the mental exercise of this. Being a CEO of a small business it truly brings into perspective what you bring, or don’t bring, to those you work with each day. At the level of a Fortune 500 CEO, and the amount of CEO compensation at those giant companies, it’s hard to even imagine!

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, had a total compensation of $125 million dollars in 2019, down from $136 million in 2018. Do you think the employees of Apple would be willing, across the board, every single one, to pay .5% of their salary to keep Tim as CEO or go with a cheaper option?

Better yet, Apple is a very successful, profitable company. If the employees of Apple chose another CEO making, let’s say, only $10 million per year, would that profitability really change that much?

Many people have this argument around college and professional coaches ‘ salaries in sports. Does an NCAA coach making $8 million a year at a power 5 conference, really that much better than a coach making $500K at a mid-major program? Probably not. CEOs probably aren’t that much different. It’s very rare to find a leader, or coach, who is truly transformational that you can point to and say, yep, Timmy is definitely worth what he’s getting paid!

It would be an interesting internal study within your organization to see what percent of your employees would say they would be willing to pay it. It’s really a great measure for your CEO to understand their impact and worth, and probably bring them down to reality a bit.

What do you think? Would you be willing to pay .5% of your salary to your CEO!?! HRU employees – you don’t have to answer this! I already know you would! 😉

HR Managers! Sometimes Executive Compensation is Above Your Pay Grade!

From the front lines of in the weeds HR Management in Detroit – HR Manager claims to have been fired for whistleblowing on some unfair executive compensation practices!

From the front lines of real HR:

A human resources manager at the publicly-funded Great Lakes Water Authority has filed a whistleblower arbitration case against the agency, claiming she was fired only days after raising concerns about lucrative new retirement benefits for authority CEO Sue McCormick, and how they were handled.

The benefit netted McCormick, a former manager of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, more than $90,000 in additional retirement money in 2018 — an amount so large, it had to be split over two years to conform with Internal Revenue Service maximum retirement contributions by an employer.

Hmmm…sounds fishy…continue:

Though other GLWA employees also received the benefit — designed for former Detroit water department employees who left city employment to come to GLWA before becoming vested in the city’s pension system — McCormick’s bonus under the program was, by far, the largest, said Stephanie Stevenson, a human resources manager with the agency whose job included oversight of employee benefits…

…Stevenson said it seemed as if policies were being created specifically to assist McCormick with her predicament — and were being made without consulting Stevenson, who oversaw benefits.

“This was unfair. It was like an abuse of power — corrupt,” Stevenson said.

Rule number one in HR Fight Club – do not make a benefit change without first consulting the HR Pro in the house!

So, the GLWA decided to terminate HR Manager Stephanie. Did they terminate her because of the whistleblower complaint? “No!” was the exact quote from lawyers representing GLWA. Why was Stephanie fired? They weren’t saying…

Here’s the thing.

Almost every executive makes so much more than the run of the mill employee, and HR Manager, that when you see something like your initial impression is something isn’t right about this! Executive compensation is a different animal altogether!

Now, I don’t know if Stephanie was fired for whistleblowing. But, when you hear the explanation of the additional compensation benefit and its design, whether it was done specifically for the CEO or not, they dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s, and while most employees couldn’t take advantage of this additional benefit, all were eligible.

“Unfair” isn’t illegal and sometimes that’s is so hard to accept. Is it fair this CEO gets a bunch of money given to them when most employees will not be given anywhere near this amount? No. Is it illegal? Also, No.

If I was a betting man, Stephanie, got fired not for whistleblowing, but for probably some stuff she did to prove something illegal was going on, when it really wasn’t, but it felt like it was. Why don’t people come forward with whistleblowing complaints? Because either way, no one wants you around afterward. Rightly or wrongly, a trust has been broken. That’s not right, that’s reality. Funny enough, most HR pros actually know the math on this!

What I find most helpful when dealing with executive compensation stuff like this is to bring a few people into the decision-making process, and have us all together at the same time. I want someone from my legal team, someone from my HR team, and someone from my finance team, hopefully with their CPA. Are we legal, are we following tax laws, are we breaking policy we shouldn’t? Is everyone good? Okay, go.

Executives are hired and fired for making decisions above our pay grade. Sometimes they get benefits that seem unfair and exorbitant. The big question you need to ask, is this illegal or simply just unfair? Those are two very different things!

Don’t Go to College! You Could Make $2 Million Over Your Lifetime!

$2.7 Million is a lot of money (the average high someone in college will make over a forty-year career). Marketwatch released the list of the top colleges and your potential return on investment. Nowadays, going to college is an investment, for most four-year degrees you’ll pay at least six figures and it has many parents and students wondering if it’s really worth it!

Here’s the list:

You’ll notice the top return on investment schools are some big names: Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Georgetown. But there are also some that are not as well known: Albany College, US Merchant Marines, Babson!?

In fact, number twelve on the list isn’t even a four-year college, but a two-year nursing program from St. Paul’s School of Nursing in New York, where graduates can expect to earn $1.8 million over a forty-year career!

Which begs the question, do you need to go to a private, Ivy league, big-name university to make a great living? No. But, it certainly helps ensure you will.

While the top average forty-year return is $2.7 million, that equates to about $67,500 a year, most students going to any college today believe they’ll make more than $67,500 per year eventually in their career, especially those going to an Ivy League school! Probably most kids going to a state four-year school believe the same thing!

Two-year college programs and certificate programs that faired really well in lifetime earnings where mostly nursing and IT, and many of the technical trade schools (electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, etc.). Depending on the market and school, many of these two-year or under programs were right on par with the lifetime earnings of their four-year degree counterparts.

So, what does this all mean? 

Should kids still go to college? It totally depends on the kid and what they want to do in life! But, if you have a kid who doesn’t know, for gosh sakes don’t throw money away on a college education that might never use! Make them actually work for a bit after high school. Have them take a “gap year” and travel or volunteer, before investing such an enormous amount of money.

We’ve failed our kids when it comes to occupations they can be proud of. I’m a Recruiter. It’s worked out great for me and my family. I’ve put two through college and one is on the way. I also have encouraged them not to be a Recruiter! Why? Because we always want our kids to be better than us. If I was a surgeon, I would want my kid to be a brain surgeon. If I was an Accountant, I would want my kid to be a CFO. We push them to be something we believe is better than we are. With this ‘evolution’ we’ve totally steered our kids away from great professions and occupations that they can make a great living at and have a wonderful life.

We’ve failed college students in believing they’ll make way more money than they actually will. Go on any campus in the U.S. and ask students how much they expect to make 5 years out of college and all of them will tell you more than $67,500. That was the highest average of all schools and all degrees!

I get it, I’m part of the problem with my own kids, but we need to change our culture around work. I hate we are now selling this bullsh*t around ‘meaningful work’! We are making kids believe that if there isn’t meaning to your work then it’s crap. No! No, it’s not! It’s valuable to put in a great day’s work, that might not have some bigger meaning then you just got paid and now can provide for yourself and your family! That’s a great thing!

Ok, I’m done – Boomer out! (I’m actually not a Boomer, but it seemed an appropriate end!)

What we say versus What we want in a Job!

My wife always tells me it’s actions, not words that make a difference. You can say all of this great stuff, but if you do nothing, it’s meaningless. I think we would all agree with this.

So, when we hear graduating students, candidates, and employees tell us what they really want is “Meaningful Work” in their careers, we have to understand that those are “Words”! Not actions, just words. A new study from Olivet Nazarene University Meaningful Work Survey asked this question and, predictably, found this:

So, yeah, 90% of us believe that meaningful work is critical for our career and happiness. Sounds about right, those ‘words’ tend to always come out when we talk about our dream job, etc.

Then the study asked another question. It was basically, given your current career, job, etc. what is the one thing that would make it better? An action. But, remember those words!? What you would believe would make their career/job better should be “more meaningful work”! 90% of you idiots just answered that is was super important for your career and happiness!

Here’s what they actually said:

Show. Me. The. Money!!!!

Yep, you know I love this! “We just a job that saves puppies! That would make me so happy!” Oh, wait, saving puppies only pays $23,000 per year!?! Yeah, screw those puppies! I want to work for a private equity firm! I’m a boat, bitch!

Want to retain your employees? Stop trying to make your employees believe that the rubber vomit you’re manufacturing matters and pay them more and give them flexibility! Stop asshole managers from treating their people bad! And magically, you’ll have high retention and your people will love working for you, even though you don’t save puppies!

I get it, deep down, we all want to do something that changes the world for good. We want to help others, and save puppies. And the concept of meaningful work does really matter, given all other things, like compensation, flexibility, great leaders and co-workers, etc. are equal.

If I can make six figures a year saving puppies, I’m saving puppies. You’re saving puppies. We are all saving puppies!

But it doesn’t, so our actions speak way louder than our words when it comes to career choices and change. Meaningful work is not the most important thing for people in their careers. Its something to consider, but don’t get too caught up in believing it’s going to fix all of your employee experience issues!

The reality is, we all manage performance through compensation!

There is one compensation list that I love! I’m a big fan of college football and each year the various media outlets will release the top-paid college football coaches. Here’s what it currently looks like:

Okay, let’s do the breakdown and we can see where performance management through compensation is working and not working!

#1 and #2 – Dabo Swinney (Clemson) and Nick Saban (Alabama) – for the past few years have been at the top of college football polls and winning national championships, so it seems like they are positioned pretty well. I don’t think anyone could argue Nick belongs on top, but’s he’s doing just fine!

#3 – Jim Harbaugh (University of Michigan) – he’s won about 70% of his games, but has no Big Ten Championships and no national championships, and can’t be U of M’s biggest rivals on the regular. He would be fired by any company in America because he’s overpaid by so much it’s almost obscene.

#4 Jimbo Fischer (Texas A&M) – He’s really Jim Harbaugh, Jr.

#5-#7 – Georgia, Auburn, Texas – Probably where they should be, for Georgia and Auburn especially. Texas is doing well this year but has had recent struggles, but trending up.

#8 – Jeff Brohm (Purdue) – I’m assuming he’s got pictures or emails of something or someone he shouldn’t because he is way overpaid, maybe worse than Jim Harbaugh! At least U of M gets publicity out of Jim. I wouldn’t know Brohm if he walked past me with a Purdue shirt on that said, “Coach”!

#9 – #11 – Oklahoma, Florida, Penn State – all in line with performance and pay, for the most part. I’m not sure how Penn State came back so quickly from the Sandusky thing, but eventually, we’ll see an ESPN Outside the Lines on how that happened and the second fall.

#12 – Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) – I guess if you charge $68K a year for tuition you might as well overpay your head coach by a number of 2345 times what you should.

#13 – Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) – For the pure entertainment he puts on the field, I would say he’s at where he should be for pay, even though, his team isn’t close to being the 13th best in the country.

#14 – Scott Frost (Nebraska) – FROST Warning! Which means basically nothing. What you see in Nebraska overpaying for a coach is what happens when you go after the young up and comer! “We want the best salesperson from our competitor!” Okay, but it’s going to cost you and they’ll probably have worse results with you.

#15 – Willie Taggert (Florida State) – About where he should based on potential, recruiting, etc. Maybe a bit of an overpayment based on the knee jerk reaction to losing Jimbo Fischer to Texas A&M.

#16 – Charlie Strong (South Florida) – I failed at Texas, but coaching there gave me a giant personal brand and you’re desperate for a big-name coach. Get ready to overpay!

#17 – #19 – TCU, Iowa, and Kentucky – TCU, and Iowa are right in line with pay and performance, Kentucky needed a big name and plays in the best conference in football, so you’re going to overpay a bit to get yourself to average.

#20 – Chris Petersen (Washington) – Underpaid. His teams consistently perform and rank higher than pay rank.

#21 – David Shaw (Stanford) – In line with pay (see Northwestern) – probably needs Jim Harbaugh back to recruit for him because David was awesome when he had Harbaugh recruits!

#22 – Ryan Day (Ohio State) – Get ready for a big raise, big fella! Underpaid, but new, so you get away with it for a little while.

#23 & 24 – Will Muschamp and Mark Dantonio – paid in line with performance. You know I’m a huge Sparty guy, but Coach D is basically paid in line for what’s he’s produced. Some great years, but mostly a 20-25 ranked team, that has Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan all in their conference each year. South Carolina is basically Michigan State with better weather.

#25 – Paul Chryst (Wisconsin) – Might be the most underpaid coach in Division 1, but they are like, where’s he going to go? Arkansas!?! Nope, so you consistently exceed expectations and we’ll consistently underpay you!

See what I mean!?

Taking a look at how NCAA D1 coaches are paid is just like looking at the compensation of your team. It’s part science, part art form, mostly guessing. Basically, compensation pros are all overpaid, because they truly have no idea what they’re doing and get pushed around too easily by folks with influence in your organization to make dumb decisions and you end up with a list as you see above!

Hit me in the comments on where your coach is on the list and if you think they are paid fairly for the market, or unfairly!

 

 

 

Who are the best companies to work for? And why?

I don’t put much stock into “Best Company to Work For” lists. That said, the data provided by Universum in there World’s Most Attractive Employer Report is pretty cool and gives you some insight on how you can help move your organization in the right direction.

What’s wrong with the best places to work lists?

  1. It only measures those employers who actually do the work to be considered for the list.
  2. It’s based on data that someone, other than yourself, decided was criteria for being a great place to work. And that might not align with what your org considers to be a great place to work, or the talent you market to, etc.

All that being said, I find that organizations, every single one who tries out for these lists, probably care about their employee and candidate experience at a pretty high level. Are they really the ‘best’ place to work? I don’t know, but they’re trying and that’s more than most of us can say!

So, who are they?

So, you can already see the bias, right? Tech, Business services, big brands. There isn’t one company on the list you haven’t heard of. Doesn’t that seem strange? You mean in the top 50 companies in the WORLD, there isn’t one company we haven’t heard of who is just great? Well, it’s the “World’s 50 Most Attractive”, so the one thing about being “attractive” is you’re probably known, when it comes to lists like these.

What makes you an “Attractive” employer? 

1. The ability to have high future earnings (you can make a lot of money) – 49.1%

2. You’ll get professional training and development – 43.8%

3. The job is secure (you won’t get laid off) – 39.1%

4. Working for this brand will help your career in the future – 38.8%

5. You have the ability to be creative – 38.7%

6. The company is successful within the market they compete in – 38.5%

7. The company encourages you to go home once in a while – 38.2%

8. You like the people you work with – 38.2%

9. You have leaders who support and they know how to develop talent – 38%

10. Competitive base salary – 37.6%

Anything pop out at you from the list?

What about #1 and #10? Oh, so, really base salary doesn’t mean anything, as long as I make a lot of money from what I’m doing!?! Turns out we release research and data for a reason. If you’re trying to sell employer branding software, it’s important for employers to understand it’s not about how much you pay because at that point you don’t need a brand, you need to pay the most.

But, it’s not what this data says. Like all modern research around this topic, what you make, is significantly more important than things like ‘being developed” and having “challenging work”. The person has to know and understand that financially this will work out very well for me, and then, all the other stuff becomes important once that question is satisfied.

You can not act like the most important thing on the list (#1 – High Future Earnings) is really that different than the last thing on the list (#10- competitive base salary). Those things are married at the hip if we have any inkling about basic compensation theory on where someone starts their career in base salary vs. the impact that has on future earnings, in the millions of dollars, going forward.

Let’s face it, as an employer you want to be able to deliver each of the ten things on the list in a really good way. If you do, you will not have trouble attracting talent or keeping your best talent.

7 Things to Never Say When Asking for a Raise…But You Always Wanted To!

Columnist, Jeff Haden, wrote an article called “Ten Things You Should Never Say When Firing an Employee  in which he tries to give good advice, in typical HR fashion of over-reducing risk, in how you should speak, or not speak, to an individual regarding their near termination.  As you can imagine, there were the classics:

  • “Look, this is really hard on “me”!”
  • “We’ve decided to make a change.”
  • “Compared to Mary, you just aren’t cutting it.”
  • If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know.” (Okay, how about giving me my job back, idiot!)

 

Among a few others, including the most recent classic of firing employees via email, which is just unimaginable, for those HR pros who struggle with conflict, Haden nailed pretty much all the normal things we would tell hiring managers not to do or say. The question then really comes down to thanks for the info, now what should I be saying to someone when I fire them?  The article probably would have been better served here – but that would have been difficult and thought-provoking – and taken more than 13 minutes to write.

The piece did get me to thinking about certain conversations in our work lives that cost people the most anxiety, besides the above example of having to terminate someone, having to go in and ask for money was, on my list, the next most anxious work conversation I could come up with.  I can think of many times that I wanted more money, though I was deserving through results to get more money, and heck even our good old Comp people said the market should be paying me more money, and still, it is a difficult conversation to have with your superior (at least for me).

Like many, I think I do a good job, give my best effort, produce great results and after all that, do I really need to ask? Shouldn’t my boss get it and just want to write me a blank check? I mean really!

So, here are the lines that you would like to say when asking for more money – but probably shouldn’t – if you really want more money:

1. “If you pay 10% more, I will really put in some extra effort!” – So what you’re saying is you’re not putting in extra effort now…

 

2. “I looked in our HRIS system and I know Sheila on the 5th floor is making $5000 more than I am – and she’s an idiot!” – Not the best strategy to look at others’ private comp information, even if you have access, then call them an idiot – at least in my experience…

 

3. “If you don’t pay me more money, I’ll be forced to find another job that will pay me what I worth” – Be careful, I’ve tried this one, and they might call your bluff!

 

4. “I’ve done the math and if you fire Mike, I can do his job and mine, you save $50K, after giving me $25K of his $75K salary” – This actually might be a really good idea, But Mike might be the last one standing with the $25K raise, not you!

 

5. “I really don’t understand how you can be worth $50K more than me, I do all your work – and deserve more money” – Bosses just love to hear they are overpaid, don’t do anything, and you can do their job – NOT!

 

6. “I saved the company $1 million in reducing recruiting fees, by implementing a social media strategy successfully, I should at least get a fraction of those savings” – Why, yes you should – if you were in sales, but you’re in HR, and this was part of your job description. Sorry for the wake up call – all employees aren’t treated equally – put on a helmet.

 

7. “I know times are tough, so I was thinking instead of more money you could give me an extra weeks vacation or pay for my health insurance or something else like that.” – Okay, Einstein, stop thinking – it’s all money. Vacation, health insurance, paid parking, lunch money – it all hits the bottom line on the income statement. You just showed how expendable you really are.

 

I’ve learned over the years, through trial and error, okay, mostly error, that many, if not all, of the above statements, just don’t seem to have the impact that I was hoping for with my supervisor.  I have seen others, who I will not name, who performed well, gave it their all, and were dedicated to doing their best for themselves, their co-workers and the company, and showed a little patience who actually did very well in both the raise and promotion category.

Supervisors are as uncomfortable as you are to have the compensation conversation mainly, because if you are as good as you profess to be then they really do want to give you more but probably can’t due to the budget, the economy, they like your co-worker even more, etc. The reality is you have to follow what Yoda would say – Patience my young Padawan…

College Students: Are you adding your side-hustle to your resume!?

I got killed a few weeks ago by some trolls on Twitter over posting this tweet:

I get that many people need to work side hustles to make ends meet in today’s world. I wasn’t talking about these folks working their butts off to make ends meet. I myself work side hustles.

In today’s #outrage culture, this tweet was seen as insensitive by some folks who spend way too much time on Twitter and not enough time on their professional role! Also, I’m clearly not Gary Vaynerchuk, the king of hustle porn, who could tweet this exact tweet and get 5 million likes before the end of the day!

Turns out, Recruiters are now encouraging college students to put their side hustles on their resume and profiles. Why? Because employers actually really like candidates who aren’t afraid to work! It’s the #1 thing that executives tell me when we talk about their pain points around hiring. “Tim, we just need people who want to work!”

So, what are the top side hustles you should be adding onto your resume and profiles? The folks at The Knowledge Academy did a survey and found these were the most popular:

  • 85% of US recruiters recommend those college students who buy items from garage sales and then sell them online for a higher price, to include it on their resume/job applications
  • 67% of US recruiters believe college students that create/modify products to sell online, should have it on their resume/job applications
  • 60% of US recruiters think college students who offer photography services for hire, encourage stating it on their resume/job applications

I really think as a candidate, any skill you believe adds to your overall value as an employee should be something you add to your resume and/or profile, but just know that some HR/Talent/Hiring Managers will look at this in different ways. If you’re an engineer and you’re also driving for a ride share service, you probably need to explain why the full-time gig isn’t enough. “I’m also supplementing my income with weekend and evening ride share to help pay off my student loans quicker!”

The survey found that –52% of recruiters feel companies who know an employee has a growing ‘side hustle’ should take an active approach to support them (i.e. offering flexible working hours). Um, what!? So, Mary is our accountant and we love her, but she also has a growing cupcake business on the side and I should give her time off to go do that and not fulfill her duties in a full-time role? I’m not sure I 100% can buy into this philosophy from a business standpoint!

I would probably go back to that employee and ask them if they started their own business, like this side hustle, and had to hire folks, who then wanted to not work their ‘real’ job, but put more time and effort towards their own thing, how would that sit with them? I already know the answer. They want and need workers who are committed and get their jobs done like everyone else.

It’s definitely a different world we live in. Side hustles become full-time hustles for so many folks. I definitely see this when someone is working a full-time gig that they hate, and a side hustle that they love. Like Gary V would say, you need to then adjust your lifestyle to fit your side hustle, and not your full-time gig if that’s what you desire to do. What you can’t do is think just because you love petting puppies, doesn’t mean you can do it full-time without giving up some stuff. It’s hard to make those Tesla payments on a puppy petter salary!

Job Descriptions vs. Job Postings with @LRuettimann and I (Video) @HRTMSInc #SHRM19

Laurie Ruettimann and I discuss the differences between a job description and a job posting and review a great piece of technology called, JDXpert, we did a demo on. Check it out!

HRTMS Inc. is a human resources software company that specializes in Job Information and Description Management. Its groundbreaking solution JDXpert allows you to bring structure and efficiencies to the way job information is constructed, managed and stored. HRTMS works with a wide range of organizations including manufacturing, healthcare, education, retail, finance, pharmaceuticals, energy, technology, hospitality, professional services, and media services. Since its release in 2010, JDXpert continues to be the most comprehensive and powerful job description management tool on the market.

HRTMS is allowing Laurie and I to give away a free Ebook – “10 Ways To Improve Your Job Descriptions”! (Just click on the link to download!)

 

8 Types of Recognition that Suck!

I run a small business.  When I need to know something, I usually reach out to my employees and find out what they think.  It’s not some big fancy ‘research’ survey with thousands of responses, but it’s real.

Recently, I wanted to know what people might want in terms of a recognition award.  Ironically, what I found goes against some big fancy research done by recognition companies who are in the business of selling the crap on the list below, crazy how that works in the research game! Anywho, what I found wasn’t surprising to me.

Here’s the list of the Top 8 things my employees don’t want when it comes to Recognition Awards:

1. Anniversary Pins! If you give me one of these I will stick it back in your eye! “Hey, Tim, Thanks for 10 years! Buddy, here’s a pin!” A What!?!? I’ve given you ten great years and you’re giving me a pin. Is this 1955?

2. A Plaque. Or any other kind of trophy thing. If I wanted a trophy to show me that I’m a salesperson of the year, you hired the wrong person. JayZ said it best “we can talk, but money talks, so talk more bucks”.

3. Corporate logo wear. Giving out corporate logo wear as a form of recognition screams you have executives that haven’t actually spoken to an employee in the last twenty years!

4. A watch. Wait, if it’s a Rolex, I’ll take a watch. If it’s a Timex you better ‘watch’ out, I’m throwing it at someone! Nothing says we don’t really care about you like a $50 watch with it engraved on the back ‘You Matter! 2019!’

5. Luggage. The ‘experts’ would like you to believe that your employees would really ‘appreciate’ luggage because it’s an item they don’t normally like to spend their money on. The reason why people don’t like to spend their money on luggage is that it gets destroyed after one trip through O’Hare! That’s just what you want to see coming around the luggage carousel – “Hey, look, honey, it’s your employee of the year award all ripped up and stained”. Sign and symbols.

6. Fruit Baskets. First, most people don’t want to be healthy or we wouldn’t have the obesity problem we have in our society. Second, people like chocolate, candy, salty snacks, and diet soda. If you want to send food, send food they’ll actually eat!

7. A Parking Spot with Their Name On It. This goes bad two ways: 1. I drive a $100K Mercedes and you don’t, now you know I drive a better car than you and it’s awkward; 2. I drive a beater and I’m embarrassed to let everyone know I make so little I can even afford a 2014 Chevy Cobalt.

8. A Hug! Wait! I totally want a hug! Just not a creepy hug. You know what a creepy hug feels like when you’re about 13 seconds into it and the other person won’t let go! But nothing says “we recognize you” in the totally wrong way, like inappropriate hugs at work!

What do employees want?

Well, that’s an entire another post, but my 20 years of HR ‘research’/experience shows people want for their peers and leaders to appreciate their efforts. Nothing says ‘we truly care about you’ like having one of your peers tell you in some sort of way. When teams can do that, they become special! It might be a quick handwritten note, a face to face meeting in the hall, etc. It really doesn’t matter the avenue of how it comes, it just matters that you have the culture that it does come and it’s encouraged to keep coming.