What do workers want?
A recent study of over 19,000 employees and managers looked at what keeps people from being more satisfied and productive at work. The answer was not surprising: people perform best when their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs are met. When we feel energized, appreciated, focused, and purposeful, we’re happier and more effective in our jobs.
What is surprising is how important these factors are to the bottom line. When all four areas are covered, employees feel over twice as engaged in their company’s business. And firms with the most engaged workers are 22% more profitable than those with the least engaged workers, across all kinds of industries.
The message? No one lives by bread alone—we’re complex creatures with a full spectrum of needs. Compensation is important, but it’s part of a complex web of benefits and responsibilities often called “company culture.”
The takeaway for investors is to look beyond the bottom line. Read management’s discussion of its businesses. Listen to a conference call. Do they look out for their workers? Do they invest in their renewal? Is productivity—sales or cash-flow per employee—gradually rising, or does it jump around with every financial transaction?
Respect is the secret sauce of business success. Everyone desires to be respected and to be respectable, to “wear a dignity that is deserved.” It’s one reason we like sports, where people rise or fall by their own merit. As Confucius wrote, it’s respect that separates us from the beasts.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all!