To find (and keep) top talent, you need to support who people are as well as what they do.

I’m at the 2015 Milken Global Conference in the upscale Beverly Hilton, joining my fellow panelists in the green room to put our mics on for our session. Set on the left coast, the Milken Conference has a different zeitgeist than the global confabs held around the Atlantic. A countercultural Cali vibe survives here, expressed in mashup sessions like “Philanthropy, Technology, Celebrity and Marketing.” Our panel, entitled “Values, Human Capital and Corporate Performance,” is no different.

The panelists are discussing a shift in the values and expectations of today’s best employees. When I graduated from college back in the olden days, the job negotiation formula was simple: Salary, benefits and bonus. It turns out that’s not enough anymore. The next generation wants something different from their work life than their predecessors — and corporations are scrambling to decipher the keys to keeping them engaged and in their cubicles (or the mobile version thereof).

To illustrate, I recount the story of one of my best MBA students, Peter, who upon graduation scored the dream job of his peers at a major consumer goods company. Identified as a high-potential employee, Peter was fast-tracked for corporate success with training programs and functional rotations. To all appearances, he was well on his way to being “set for life.”

He quit after just two years.

When I asked why, I got a surprising answer: “I was only using a tenth of my being at work,” he said.

Unable to express his higher self, Peter took his high-potential “being” to the social enterprise VisionSpring — and, in his words, is “opening people’s eyes to the simple and beautiful power of vision.”

Peter has identified the new negotiation formula: salary, benefits, bonus and being.

The inclusion of “being” is part of a long evolution in what we bring to our workday. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, manual laborers were expected to shut up, follow orders and bring their hands. Then, with the dawn of the information age, they became “knowledge workers” and were asked to bring their heads. Today’s high-touch, relational economy requires “emotional intelligence,” so employees are now expected to open their hearts.

Each shift has brought us closer to engaging the whole person at work. Peter is a harbinger of the next “is” shift toward what Abraham Maslow called “self-actualization.” Work is no longer only about solving technical problems in exchange for a paycheck. Employees want an opportunity to express their whole being: Physical, intellectual, emotional and, yes, even a spiritual sense of higher purpose and contribution.

What’s interesting is that my fellow panelists are already seeing this in their businesses and are providing new avenues for personal expression. Efrat Peled, CEO of the Tel Aviv-based Arison Investments, says offering employees the opportunity to express themselves through purpose and values opens up creativity and committed action. Peled notes that “99.9% of employees want to be connected to a positive cause… and I wouldn’t underestimate the knowledge of the people in our systems.” By fostering internal social networks through their Doing Good Model of values, Arison encourages employees to affiliate with each other based on their expressed values and passions. And in doing so, the company unleashes the creativity and commitment of their workforce.

Panelist Pamela Thomas-Graham from Credit Suisse concurs that allowing employees to express their passions and values fosters innovation. One example is a Credit Suisse program called “Real Returns.” It emerged when employees expressed a concern for women who, due to the demands of motherhood or the need to care for an elderly family member, had dropped out of the workforce. The employees wanted to provide a re-entry pathway for these women and created the idea of a “Returnship” — an internship that offered talented professionals the opportunity to get their corporate groove back. Credit Suisse found that the program provided access to experienced candidates who might have been overlooked in the past.

These examples are encouraging, but companies are only beginning to understand both the challenges and opportunities of engaging the whole person at work. What’s clear is that the days of leaving your values and being at the threshold when you step into the corporate elevator are coming to an end.

2 Comments On: Salary, Benefits, Bonus … and Being

  • Aloisio Pombo | May 13, 2015

    Dear Gregory Unruh.
    Aprovo seu artigo. É muito difícil para o líder construir uma empresa que motive seus funcionários. O salário deve ser a média do mercado junto com os, benefícios. O bônus e prêmios devem estar atrelados aos objetivos estratégicos e definidos pelo Balanço Scorecard.
    Agora é Ser é fundamental. Todo funcionário quer ser alguém. Pertencer a alguma empresa em um cargo de seu sonho. O funcionário quer Ser reconhecido e recompensado.
    Mas se o líder conseguir encontrar na empresa uma função que dê ao funcionário uma oportunidade de realização pessoal aí poderá estar a verdadeira motivação que a pessoa humana costuma procurar.
    Um dos artigos que li e que ficaram marcados na minha mente foi “O acordo de expectativas” (Pfeiffer UCLA) quando o líder em uma série de reuniões com o funcionário chega a um acordo para atender a expectativa da pessoa depois que um momento os objetivos da estratégia são alcançados.
    Muito obrigado por seu artigo. Ajudou muito. Adm. Aloisio Pombo de Miranda Santos, MSc. http://www.aloisiopombo.com.br

  • ADENIYI ELEGBEDE | May 18, 2015

    The modern era has brought about innovation in the management of human resource. Employees are no longer just a workforce to be paid salary and other fringe benefits and thereby allow them to perform. The totality of human being has to be considered for maximum efficiency. The being in human resource is becoming manifesting and management has to be aware of this for effective and high productivity to be attained.

    Adeniyi Elegbede,MBA,CFE,ACA is a Managing Partner of ADENIYI ELEGBEDE & CO , a firm of Chartered Accountants.

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