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Why Should People Work for You?

This week I had a meeting with a managing director as they face a lot of people-related problems so I took her through my Employee Experience evaluation tool questions. She failed at the 4th question, "Why should people work for you?"

Failing at this question is hard because there is no right answer! You get to say why people should work for you and there is no right or wrong answer. She failed because she froze!

She uncomfortably sat up in her chair, her eyes widened, forced an embarrassed smile and said "That's a good question I will let the L&D manager answer this." This is the owner of this company we are talking about.

When company owners cannot state why people should work for them that's a problem hey? I like to put these reasons into five categories.

1 - Brand - Work with us so you can put that on your CV. These companies normally get away with murder in terms of working hours, pay etc. People work for them for the brand. Yes, they will have funky policies and office designs but when you look beyond the surface they capitalise on their brand. There is nothing wrong with it.

2 - Brand & Money - Work with us for the brand and you can earn money but we take your life away. These are normally financial services or big consulting firms. You can earn great money but you will work 80 hours a week and it is a cutthroat environment. So forget about leadership, work-life balance, wellbeing or other social narratives.

3 - Money - Take point two and minus the brand. These are likely to be real estate and other local companies that have no established reputation but you can make a great living. Construction and other blue-collar jobs also fall under this. Bricklayers earn more than doctors.

4, - Building & Creating - These are the startups or science fields! I worked with two this year and I love them. There is not much money in them but if you want freedom, creativity, and building something they are your places. They can still work crazy hours but they have the freedom where and when they do that.

5 - Taking Care of Others - These guys are the ones who find pleasure in helping or serving others. The money and working conditions are likely to be not great or just ok but they have fantastic camaraderie. These are the teachers, nurses, doctors, military, emergency services, non-profit organisations, animal welfare organisations, zookeepers, conservationists etc... I also put the service industry here hospitality, restaurants, retail etc.

Here is the thing, nobody ever applies for a job because of the leadership, development programs, great office designs, opportunity to grow, diversity, sustainability agenda, modern people practices etc. You as an employer have these because you must have them if you want to run a successful business.

You need to train and develop them if you want them to perform in their jobs or stay at the company. You need to have great leadership because we know where bad leadership will take you. Diversity is given by nature so stop that! We are all different. And as for sustainability, well, that's your business interest again. None of these are designed to attract people. These are designed to run companies well.

People apply for jobs for one of those five reasons and you must include that in your efforts to attract talent.

There is nothing wrong with saying, "We work hard here based on the season or the demand but it will be financially compensated."


"We offer what others offer but our brand will look solid on your CV."

Honesty is the way forward because selling business interests to attract employees is not working. It also creates a problem because people who are motivated by money often end up in places where there is no money to be made and they get demotivated. Or, people who would want a brand on their CV working for an unknown company often are ashamed when you ask them and they immediately start compensating by saying "Yes, but I come from ...... (brand)." They are likely to leave you soon.

Hiring successfully often depends on these things not so much on the skills of the person.

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