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YOU CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS


With increasingly attractive workplace benefits packages a constant threat of luring employees away from their jobs, listening to the demands of staff has never been more important for employers.

And with almost 80% of working-age women now engaged in the Kingdom’s labour force, employers must know how to cater to the needs of female employees, and not just men.

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While the importance of tangible benefits such as salary and leave entitlements remain high priorities, less tangible benefits such as trusting work-relationships, the freedom to speak freely and having equal opportunities are also required to keep female staff satisfied.

“Of course, if my employer did not give me the benefits that they do, I would be looking for another position,” says Seap Bottrei Khemara, a finance manager at a local telecommunications firm.

Aged in her thirties, Khemara is well educated and ambitious: a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s degree in management and her eyes constantly on the top CFO job. But motivations aside, the most important element of her work life is simple: Trust.

Productive work relationships start at the top
After seven years with the company, she says, having an open communication line and the ability to give and receive constructive criticism with her superiors is vital for a healthy workplace.

“It’s so important for me to be able to trust my employer to identify when I have been working really hard and reward me for that in some way,” she says. “Trust between employer and employee is an intangible benefit that workplaces must have.”

But Khemera, who sits at a long row of desks side-by-side with the team she manages, admits there is more than just having a good relationship with the boss.

“Of course the benefits are super important. The pay needs to be appropriate for the skill level and employers need to be fair in considering bonuses when and where they are due.  For staff, that is the most obvious sign of appreciation.”

Benefits like phone allowances, health insurance, medical check-ups and additional training, she says, are the extras that keep her pleased with her position.

There comes a point, however, when job satisfaction becomes about more than just the personal rewards, according to Sok Vanny, a 51-year-old bank manager at one of Cambodia’s leading financial institutions.

Happy employees are loyal employees
After landing an entry-level administration job with the company in 1993, Vanny has spent almost her entire professional life with the one organisation. Such employee loyalty, she says, is a rare attribute nowadays.

“Certainly, my friends and relatives have not had the same luck or experience with their workplace as I have,” she says. “Many quit and change jobs very often if they see another company offering better pay, health benefits or conditions.”

The integrity of the company she works for, the healthcare and insurance it provides, being given the autonomy to make managerial decisions, and having time to spend with her family have taken over remuneration as the most important elements of her employment.

But she admits that is not the case for everyone, and good pay, monthly bonuses and end-of-year incentives are still the first things on most younger employees’ minds.

At the other end of the professional spectrum, just starting out her career in one of Cambodia’s largest hospitality firms as a shift supervisor, is Meng Sitour.

Satisfaction is more than money
At 24 years old, Sitour admits that remuneration is important. However, for her, pay alone does not make for a happy workplace.

“Having a close team in hospitality is so important because the work is so physical and fast paced. Of course, the pay and the health insurance are very important also, but even when a previous manager left and asked me to follow because of better pay, I still declined,” she says.

Sitour says basic benefits such as monthly incentive schemes, skills training and opportunities for promotion are what keep her from taking up competitive offers.

“My friends outside of work tell me they do not receive additional training, competitive salaries, promotions or even staff social events,” she says. “I do not think I would work like that anymore.”


Text & Photograph by Eddie Morton