InvestmentNews Editorials

Want to keep good employees? Know what they value most from their firm

Good pay and benefits matter, but so do management follow-through, regular communication and adequate training

Apr 6, 2019 @ 6:00 am

If you run an advisory firm and have had trouble holding on to employees and attracting new ones, consider what workers are looking for in a job these days.

It's not just good pay and benefits, although those are important. And it's not just about maintaining a "fun" workplace, like having chili cookoffs and regular happy hours, although they don't hurt.

In addition to honoring firms that maintain superior workplaces, InvestmentNews' 2019 Best Places to Work for Financial Advisers awards, which were highlighted in last week's issue, provides data on the kinds of workplace programs and practices that are most valued by advisory firm employees.

By comparing employee surveys of firms that were chosen with those that weren't, the InvestmentNews research staff were able to identify certain traits that top workplace firms share and set them apart as "best places to work."

One area that differentiates top workplaces has to do with planning and execution. Does the firm take the time to plan for the future and then follow-through to implement those plans successfully? There is nothing more frustrating to employees than to hear about a great big program to improve operations only to watch those plans grow stale from lack of action. Management instantly loses credibility, and employees have trouble getting excited when plans for the next big project are unveiled.

(More: Best Places to Work for Financial Advisers: The research and the data)

Communication is another important area. Employees don't like to be surprised. They like to be in the loop. If you want employees to act like they are part of a team you have to treat them like teammates. Part of that has to do with regular communication. Do employees know what the goals and mission of the firm are and what the strategy is to accomplish them? Do they know how the firm is doing financially?

Showing respect

Obviously, the most important communications revolve around employees' work functions, but communicating little changes are important, too. Management often makes changes that they assume are so minor they overlook letting workers know about them. Then comes the pushback: "How come nobody told me we were changing coffee vendors?" Think of it as another way of showing respect for employees. Have a formal way of communicating everything to workers, and the little things won't fall through the cracks.

Training and development are also important. Yes, the firm benefits from having workers improve their knowledge and skills, but employees also benefit. By investing in your employees, you are telling them that they matter, that they are valued, and you look forward to having them at your firm for years to come. Speaking about the future, it is also vital to have a succession plan in place that is communicated to the workforce, especially if there is an opportunity for them to participate as a partner or owner.

(More: How we pick our Best Places to Work for Financial Advisers)

The bottom line is that it's easy to improve the social aspects of your workplace. Darts, anyone? But all of the little perks in the world won't make a difference if you are not taking care of the heavy lifting. What really matters to employees is doing work that is meaningful, being given a career path that will lead to advancement and having a vested interest in the success of the firm.

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