It depends on what side of the fence you are on. Are we talking about employment or goods and services?
Let’s think of this is in two volumes. First is what does an employee want.
I was lucky enough to visit Google’s Mountain View campus. I was able to get two full meals while there and enjoy their mini kitchens, or whatever they call them. I was floored by that alone. Than you throw in free bus rides to work [San Fran is a long haul from Mountain View] to work, laundry, campus bikes and electric cars etc. and you have the formula for work utopia. Yes it does benefit Google because those employees will work harder and probably longer. But if Google goes overboard for its employees you only have to step back and look at other companies who are overboard in the other direction.
Every company wants to save money but it shouldn’t come at the cost of a strong and happy workforce. Google gives you all the perks in the world and free coffee and bacon are great but most companies forget the fundamentals. And don’t think for a minute that Google doesn’t have turnover–two of my friends are no longer employees… but that’s a discussion for another day.
One fundamental tool that can destroy a corporation is when everyone sees themselves as part of their own departmental team. Infighting will destroy even the best companies. If your employees don’t believe everyone is working in the best interest of the company there will be trouble and turnover at all levels. This can’t be covered up with free cookies.
The next biggest problem is when upper management, your corporate leaders, don’t listen to their employees. This has many levels. When you have brilliant employees who offer ideas and no one listens that is a big enough problem. But everything is magnified ten fold when upper management doesn’t listen to the advice of their lower level leaders. Once the fractures forms in other levels of management it will spill over into their departments. It’s impossible for disheartened bosses to hide their pain forever. And when their associates feel their boss’ frustration they often fear their boss will leave and they end up leaving first.
Who’s the boss? If management has to ask that question then there is really big trouble. Theoretically, everyone knows who their boss is, but when they can’t get decisions made because someone else is to blame that question must arise.
Another frustration is the lack of tools given for a team to compete against their competitors. No one wants to sit in a meeting and hear how well their competitor is doing against their company knowing that they aren’t competing on a level playing field. The best employees are competitive but if they aren’t given the ability to compete on the same level eventually they will find some place to compete where its a fair fight. Even worse, they might go to the place that continues to hand them their hat.
Employees wants are simple: a fun place to work that challenges them and allows them to the chance to thrive. If we were to list all the things that frustrate employees we’d be here for years, but as much as we think about our small daily bickering the above issues are the types that fracture companies from the top down that aren’t easily fixed. If Sarah hates Kate because she doesn’t pull her weight the solution is easy–you can fire someone. But when your C suite executives don’t see the forest through the trees and let some of the above issues fester they will lose their best talent often without ever knowing why.