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Overworking and Undervaluing Employees Hurts Companies

It's an employer's market, but times change...

When I started my high technology career in 1982, we had an unemployment rate of 10%. Doesn’t this sound familiar? It was a brave new time in computing and no one was even sure where it was all going. Doesn’t this also sound familiar? I probably didn’t realize it at the time since I was happy to get a paycheck and I was young, but relatively speaking, it was a tough market for employees. I was consistently working intense 60-hour weeks, my guess is that sounds all too familiar for many of today's professional workers. 60-hour weeks are never the problem when the team is outstanding and the mission is solid. I think the difference is during high unemployment periods, an employee feels a loss of control over their work time. A sense of obligation and less sincere dedication. It's that loss of control that can be the seed of a future exit.

Times Change
Fast forward to periods of higher employment in the last 25 years and we witnessed companies scrambling to get any talent, even if it wasn’t always the best talent. Times change. Now we’re in 2009 and we’re back to double-digit unemployment. The general view is that many companies are doing more with less people. That might work for a few months, but companies need a plan to hold on to its best people and demonstrate appreciation on a consistent basis. Over two decades now, I’ve worked with and had the honor of managing some great people. Great employees make great companies. They also can teach executives to be better managers. Take those two points to the bank.


Redlining
But what happens when executives and managers redline employees on a constant basis? For those of us familiar with the tachometer in cars, we know that when we redline a car, we are running the engine at unsafe levels where engine components can start to break down. The same thing can happen to employees, even the best ones. The ones managers should be immediately concerned with are the employees that all other employees go to for everything and seem to take for granted.

Show the Love - Now
What happens when the economy starts to gain traction again? A great employee will inevitably be contacted by an employer who is already thinking ahead and is offering long term compensation (equity) and short term compensation (salary/bonus/vacation/benefits)? What happens when the current employer didn’t show enough appreciation? When a manager redlines their best employees on a constant basis, it’s just a matter of a cycled economic recovery before the best employees are gone. Times change.

More Stories By John Ryan

John is an experienced leader with a strong background of defining and executing company strategies. He is especially skilled in channel management, market analysis, brand marketing and selling technology products and services. He has successfully served in a number of executive positions and has been in management for 20 years. John is currently writing a book on increasing revenue generation. He has been a co-author of a comprehensive marketing methodology for high tech companies and has helped venture capitalists and private equity firms gauge their technology investments. In 2004, John served as Vice President of Marketing for the NA arm of the $6B IT Services division of Siemens, AG. John served on the board of directors at WebTrends, purchased by NetIQ (NTIQ) for $1 billion in 2001. WebTrends was highly successful dominating the web site analysis and reporting space. Prior to WebTrends, John was the Vice President of Marketing for Tivoli Systems. John has worked as a contracted consultant for established companies, start ups and top analyst firms. John can be reached at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @buyersteps

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