Why More Money Alone Won't Solve a Worker Shortage. Here's What Can Help

Philip E. Altschuler, SPHR, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Training & Development, Gables Residential

Philip E. Altschuler, SPHR, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Training & Development, Gables Residential

Katie Couric’s new autobiography is a revealing look at the life of one of TV news’ biggest names. She discusses, in great detail, her achievements and salary ($15 million a year when she anchored the CBS Evening News).

Yet, despite all her successes and large bank account, she was never satisfied in her high-profile jobs at CBS, with her talk show or at Yahoo! How are we as managers supposed to react when even millions of dollars a year doesn’t bring happiness to an employee? Doesn’t this example just prove that a bigger paycheck won’t really satisfy a high performer?

Couric’s book illuminates the findings of The WorkProud Study, “How Pride Drives Business Value for Organizations.” Its survey of Americans found that 43% indicate they have the highest level of pride in their work, while about half as many (20%) indicate low pride in their work. Company pride is more divided, with approximately one-third (33%) indicating high company pride, while another one-third (30%) had low company pride with the other third (37%) somewhere in the middle.

The research found company pride is driven primarily by company culture. The factor analysis showed that 18 separate items predicted company culture and included such diverse ideas as generating high trust and respect for leadership; having a strong mission, vision and values; maintaining a positive corporate reputation for ethics; consistently displaying considerate treatment of employees; and having a high profile for corporate contributions to social, environmental and governance causes.

Employees feel more energized in the workplace, are eager to arrive at work and put in their best efforts when pride exists. The report says, “When people feel pride in their workplace, morale is high, and people feel positive about being part of the larger team, doing something that makes a difference in both their own lives, as well as for the greater good.”

In fact, Couric’s book is full of examples of pride in her work, yet she was met with opposition when she pushed for new ideas for CBS. When she told the executive producer of 60 Minutes that she felt she had done some of her best work for the program, he responded, “I know you feel that way.”

That lack of support can be defeating, no matter how much one has achieved. Our industry has its own hurdles and challenges during the “Great Resignation.” A few years ago we created Gables Ovations, a digital social recognition program. It allows our associates to earn points for going out of their way for a renter, helping a colleague or even achieving a health goal, such as walking a high number of steps.

We convert these points into dollars that can be redeemed from a rewards catalog. Sometimes there’s an option to donate these funds to nonprofits, which research shows creates happiness with the idea that giving it forward is beneficial.

This program allows us to stand out from our peers; we agree with researchers that say when the quality of employee recognition is consistently high, it’s associated with strong work pride 82% of the time and with strong company pride 75% of the time. Whether the opportunity for recognition drives pride or if employees with strong pride tend to receive greater amounts of recognition, it’s clear there’s a hand-in-glove relationship between the two.


The data show that receiving any type of recognition (e.g., public, private, written, digital) has a positive relationship with pride. When none of these types of recognition are received, only 26% indicated strong personal pride in their work, and 17% had strong personal pride in their companies.

The reality is the Great Resignation is happening. But how we as HR and business leaders react is in our hands. The best advice is for companies to check what they’re currently encouraging in their culture and confirm that it aligns with creating positive workplace pride in their employees.

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