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Winning Build U. Scholarship Essay, Spring 2015

Below is the winning essay by Ian M. Murphy, a sophomore at Oregon Institute of Technology majoring in computer engineering.

Everyone wants to be associated with a winning company and a winning team.  No one sets out to work for a company that doesn’t pay or treat them well.  While literal ownership, in the form of stock or option grants, are used by some companies to entice new associates and retain seasoned staff, they are not a substitute for ownership in the figurative sense of the word.  Excellent employees need to feel that they make a meaningful contribution to the organization’s business goals and that they are valued and appreciated for their efforts.

Mega corporations are enticing new hires with company provided lunches, snacks, fun workspaces, arcades, and by providing fully equipped gymnasiums.  There are smaller companies that will never have the resources to compete on this level.  That does not mean that employees at small companies are dissatisfied or will leave for greener pastures as soon as the opportunity arises.

Properly trained and empowered managers are critical to the overall satisfaction and retention of excellent employees. If building a great company were this simple, why aren’t all organizations great companies?  The answer to this is question is simple, because often organizations mistakenly assume that managers inherently know how to hire and manage staff.   Companies that promote from within the organization often advance the person most proficient at completing their work.  Often their work remains as part of the new management position.  Organizations may assume that the manager’s work is the first priority and the addition of staff supervision shouldn’t consume much extra time; after all, everyone is an adult.

Today’s corporate employees are vastly more complicated than the homogeneous staff portrayed on television shows such as The Office or Madmen.  Companies now compete in the global economy.  Diversity, creativity and individuality are on the forefront of today’s business culture. A one-size-fits-all management style and benefit package is no longer possible.  Retention and continued satisfaction requires a well-trained manager that is flexible, attuned to the changing needs of the individuals they manage and empowered to provide programs and incentives necessary to keep their staff engaged.

A seasoned, well-trained manager knows what is important to his or her staff by taking a personal interest in them and by continually asking them what management and the company can do better.  Managers that ignore opportunities to invest in their staff through training, improvement of skills, mentoring and succession planning will always find their best employees leaving for an employer that makes them feel valued, provides them with challenging work, recognizes and develops their skills to their full potential.  These actions tell the employee that the company believes in them and is willing to invest in making sure they have the skills and training necessary to assume additional responsibilities and advance within the company.

Many studies have been conducted to define the prime reasons that people leave their employer.  While poor pay and benefits have been cited, there are no specific categories for ‘my employer doesn’t offer stock grants or options” or “my employer doesn’t offer yoga, have a rock climbing wall or a bowling alley”.  The most prevalent reasons cited for leaving a job are poor relationships with coworkers and/or their manager, no room for advancement, insignificant work, and they do not feel recognized or appreciated.

My mother has been employed by the same company for over 20 years, where she manages several departments.  Recently, the corporation that employs her sold the division to a privately held corporation which agreed to purchase the business line upon the condition that all of the division’s management would agree to make the transition to the new company.   They were impressed that the 7 managers had advanced to their current management positions from entry level positions and had been working together for over 20 years.  All but one of the 40 employees followed their managers and made the transition to the new company.

Companies that are finding it difficult to attract and retain skilled associates may always find themselves at a disadvantage when compared to employers that spend money to build colossal fun houses.  However, it is quite possible that all it takes to foster loyalty and a sense of ownership is the expenditure of time, the time spent in taking an honest interest in the individual, giving a public shout out in a meeting, acknowledging life’s many milestones or simply saying thank you for a job well done. Good managers develop good employees.  Great managers can create a family.

Interested in applying for Buildium’s Build U. Scholarship for next semester? Please see the scholarship eligibility and essay requirements.