Contra Costa Times    Friday August 7, 1998     page B2


What do today's workers want?

By Carol Smith Seattle Post Intelligencer

Peter Moore is a student of contraditions.

He looks for the "why" when events don't happen the way they're supposed to.

Why, for example, did Procter & Gamble Co. increase its market share when it reduced teh number of hair-care products on store shelves by 50 percent?

Why will people who won't spend $1 on a fast-food hamburger, spend $3 on a cup of coffee?

Why are people leaving good jobs for high-risk opportunities, even when they're being offered more money to stay?

Studying such social and economic anomolies can help corporations chart hidden forces that drive customer and employee behavior.

Businesses need to understand the forces motivating individuals if they expect to survive and prosper in the future, he says in the just released "The Caterpillar Doesn't Know; How Personal Change Is Creating Organizational Change" (Simon & Schuster, 1998, $30).

Moore and his co-author, Kenneth Hey, are managing partners at Inferential Focus, a New York-based market-intelligence company.

People are spending money differently from the way they used to, he said. They relate to their employers differently.

In the past, people made whatever sacrifices necessary to attain their economic goals, he said. "People are not willing to give you 80 to 90 hours per week anymore."

Instead, they want different things from their life and work.

"What a lot of big companies are finding is it's increasingly harder and harder to not only recruit, but retain good people," he said. Employees want more time for themselves.

But companies are slow to pick up on that message, he said.

He recommends a "horse wisperer" approach to coping with the social changes under way.

"The first step is to let go," he said, "Companies have to realize they don't control the terms of engagement with employees and customers," he said.

Instead, they need to figure out what employees and customers want and find ways to provide it.

"Employees have a desire for learning," he said. "They have a desire for decision-making support and help trying to find this balance and control in their lives."

It's hard to let go of the corporate mantra "more, better, faster," he said. But consumers were saying, "Enough is enough."

And they are saying enough is enough at work too, he said. Companies need to find ways to give employees time for reflection, to think about their work, without frantically having to try to keep on top of the avalanche of information --- email, memos, phone calls, and faxes --- that flows over their desks each day.

Companies have spent fortunes reorganizing themselves, he said. But unless they're taking into account the changes in individual priorities, such reorganizing won't necessarily help the bottom line.