This is a guest post from Jacob Shriar of OfficeVibe.
Every employee wants the same thing.
They want a company that clearly shows that they care about them and that treats them with the respect they deserve. The companies that are the most successful are the ones that are constantly striving to keep their employees happy.
Fair salary, friendly colleagues, a helpful manager, a fun environment, and good benefits are all part of the equation of making sure you’re attracting and retaining the best talent. But which benefits really matter?
Employees need to know that they’re secure and can have access to health insurance like medical, dental, life, etc. When employees feel like you genuinely care about their well-being they’ll be more engaged.
Now it’s standard for companies to offer this, but you have to alway ensure that you’re offering the best possible options for your team. Companies need an easy way to offer insurance to their employees, because while it’s important to offer, it can get very complex, very quickly.
Paid Time Off
Ultimately, this goes to treating employees with the respect they deserve. So much of what makes a great company culture is revolved around treating employees with respect.
One example of this is how time off is managed. Netflix, as an example, recently made the news when they announced they were offering unlimited paid maternity and paternity leave. Many companies are offering unlimited vacation policies as a way to make managing it easier and making it more enticing for employees.
It also helps attract top talent to your organization. Top talent knows that they deserve to be treated with respect, and they can choose which company does it the best. Offering paid time off is a way of showing employees that you respect that they have a life outside of work.
In almost every survey of what employees want or what makes them happy, flexible schedules keeps coming back.
Work-life balance is becoming harder and harder to achieve because of our need to be “always on”. Plus, people are starting to realize that working within a rigid schedule like 9-5 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Some people are more productive early in the day, some are more productive later in the day, and smart leaders are realizing that they need to adjust to make sure it works for everyone.
Offering employees flexible schedules shows them, again, that you respect them enough to manage their work however they want to.
Opportunities For Growth
You don’t want employees to plateau and get bored. This will lead them to be disengaged at work.
In my opinion, lack of growth is the easiest way to get an employee to go from being engaged to being disengaged. If they have nothing to do, they’ll start looking elsewhere to be challenged.
Leaders need to take the time to help their employees to make sure they have a clear path. You should work with them to help them develop a plan and then hold them accountable. You should also be there for them to help in any way you can, like offering to pay for courses they take or sending them to conferences, etc.
Research shows that an employee that feels ignored is worse than an employee that is bullied.
Leaders need to work hard to make sure everyone is included and feels like they’re part of the team. You need to start doing this from day one during their onboarding. More than anything, you need to be mindful of what’s going on around you. It’s pretty easy to sense when an employee is sad or something is bothering someone. You just need to be willing to pay attention.
Team-building activities and encouraging those social interactions is important for any leader on any team.
At the core of employee engagement is trust.
Employees need to feel like you trust them enough to let them do work. Things like autonomy, flexible schedules, unlimited vacations, and other similar perks all boil down to trust. Offering those things to employees shows that you trust them.
Remember, trust is a two-way street. When you show your employees trust, they’ll show it back to you. When they trust that you have their best interests at heart, they’ll work harder, be more engaged, and help your organization reach new heights.
Trust takes time, and it requires hard work, but like any relationship, without trust, nothing else matters.
According to the book How Full Is Your Bucket, the number one reason Americans leave their job is because they don’t feel appreciated enough.
It’s pretty shocking to think this is still a problem though, recognition is one of the easiest ways to increase employee engagement. All you have to do is say “thank you”. It takes literally 2 seconds and means so much to the employee. They know they did something good and they know they deserve recognition, so you need to do it.
If they know that they deserve it but then don’t get it, they’ll naturally be upset. More than anything, like so many items on this list, it’s about being mindful of your employees and what’s going on with them.
Employees want to communicate regularly with their leaders.
They need to understand where they stand and how you feel about their work. Waiting until an annual review is just way too long for the feedback to have any effect. Employees need to know where they stand in near real-time. If they don’t get that frequent feedback they’ll be left wondering about their work. You want to do whatever you can to avoid any confusion and make sure employees aren’t left wondering if what they’re doing is any good.
Every manager should be using monthly one-on-ones with their teams to make sure there’s consistent, frequent communication occurring.
Coaching From Managers
At the end of the day, what an employee really wants is to make their manager proud.
They want to feel like they’re constantly impressing you, constantly improving and getting better at what they do. One thing they crave is to learn from you. An easy way to help your employees grow, make sure they’re productive, and ensure there’s that transfer of knowledge, is to coach them.
You can set up recurring meetings with your team, offer lunch and learns, or set up a more formal shadowing/mentoring program. This will ensure that everyone is continuously learning and growing.