Personal wealth on the rise… Secretaries a thing of the past… Big surprise: most workers faking sick days… Getting the most out of each employee…

Personal wealth on the rise

Personal wealth in Australia increased more over the past five years than in any other developed country, according to research by Boston Consulting Group.

In the five years to the end of 2006, personal wealth measured in US dollars increased by 19.1% a year. This was more than double the increase in the global average of 8.6% a year.

The number of millionaire households in Australia increased 23% to 135,000 between 2005 and 2006, ranking Australia 12th globally.

Those 135,000 households own 31% of assets under management in Australia.

Personal wealth is defined as personal assets under management, including listed securities held directly or indirectly through managed investments, cash deposits and money market funds. It excludes wealth attributed to investors’ own businesses, residences or luxury goods.

The US has by far the most millionaires, followed by Japan, the UK, Germany and China.

Secretaries a thing of the past

The fastest-growing job title in the Australian economy is general clerk. Meanwhile, being a secretary is a dying art, according to analysis of 2006 Census figures by demographer Bernard Salt. The secretary population is declining at about 8000 year. He speculates that secretaries are morphing into clerks as executives email their own correspondence.

The top growing jobs:

  • General clerk
  • Commercial cleaner
  • Aged and disabled person carer
  • Registered nurse
  • Heavy truck driver

The top declining jobs:

  • Secretary
  • Fruit, vegetable or nut farm hand
  • Dairy farmer
  • Sales and marketing manager
  • General farm hand.

Big surprise: most workers faking sick days

A new US survey confirms what many employers have long suspected: most workers who call in sick at the last minute aren’t really sick.

Based on interviews with more than 300 human resources managers at businesses nationwide and across all major industries, only about 34% of last-minute employee absences are due to “personal illness,” reports The rest take time off to deal with personal or family issues, according to CCH, an Illinois-based employment services firm.

The real reasons for employee absenteeism range from family issues to personal needs and stress. Indeed, a majority of workers tend to call in “sick” on Mondays or Fridays, with similar patterns appearing around major holidays, the survey found.

Getting the most out of each employee

What kind of employees do you have: those that want lots of direction or those who are better left to work independently? If you have a productivity or motivation problem with an employee, has a suggested approach:

Some people need clear and very specific input from a supervisor as to what a particular task entails, who to involve, what the final product or service will look like, and what the steps are to accomplish the goal. They expect management to provide formal direction, and they don’t seek additional responsibility. When job specifics aren’t provided, aren’t clear or aren’t sufficient, this employee won’t be motivated.

To increase output, satisfaction and success for this type of worker, simply be more precise, detailed and explicit about the goals, processes and people involved in the project or task. This solution assumes, of course, that you have the time and patience to devote to this employee. If you don’t, then he or she will most likely not be effective. Ironically, that person will tend to blame you for not being a good boss and providing enough input and encouragement.

Other employees don’t like, need or want a lot of structure, input and direction from you. These workers function very well when you give them minimal amounts of control or oversight. They’re capable of self-direction and self-control, and they like and seek additional responsibility. Further, they believe themselves capable of innovating and improving processes and procedures. These self-motivated and usually high-performing employees are a joy to work with because they are usually easy to get along with and, most importantly, serve as a role model for others.

Both types of employees, however, can be problematic for an employer. If you’re a controlling type of leader, obviously you would interact well with those employees who need your style of leadership. Similarly, if you’re more of a laissez-faire leader, you would work most successfully with more independent employees.

The difficulty erupts when there’s a mismatch between employee and employer; when a hands-off leader works with an employee who needs a great deal of direction and structure. The same problem arises when a controlling leader works with more independent employees.

In the case of the controlling boss and the employee who thrives on freedom, this employee too will be unmotivated, unproductive and dissatisfied. He will resent the intrusion on his job process and individualism, believing that he could function more effectively without the boss’s intense direction.

In both cases, the boss was well-intentioned; the problem was just that there was a mismatch between the needs of the employee and the needs of the leader.

To get the most out of each employee, first ask the employee his opinion of the situation and then address the concerns. Next, help the employee understand his needs in terms of direction, structure and control. To save the situation and improve productivity, start with clarification of working styles. Then look for opportunities to reach compromises between individual needs and motivational styles.


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