What do employees really want from their jobs and workplaces? And to through a spanner in the works, does what they really want become amplified working from home during a global pandemic, or do their needs somewhat change? Over the last few decades, the demands and desires of employees have evolved and changed drastically, where the emphasis on what is important has shifted, mainly to a more holistic package, than purely just remuneration. Obviously financial security is fundamental, but there is a deeper sense of personal drivers and motivators which seem to have come into play. When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, employees need to delve deep into what it is that motivates and drives them. There’s a fine line to balance between jumping onto all the latest HR trends for employees and truly understanding the inner workings of your team. There needs to be a strong alignment with what employees want and what employers want to, and can therefore offer.
There are a plethora of reasons why employees work ranging from earning a salary, to truly believing in the cause / product or service, to fulfilling personal goals and feeling like they are contributing to something larger than themselves. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can often be cited as a business model, where first and foremost employees need to take care of themselves physiologically – they need money for food and bills. Thereafter employees’ needs need to be fulfilled, ranging from security needs – stable job, safe working environment, career progression – to belonging and esteem needs, encompassing cooperative co-workers, being part of a team, getting recognition and so forth. Is the pinnacle all about that so-called self/workplace actualization? Or are employees simply happy to get a pay cheque and leave work at work, strictly at 5pm?
Below are five key factors which make all employees tick, giving them a reason to get up in the morning as well as contributing to a greater sense of morale, dedication and desire:
Commitment to well-being
Employees don’t want to feel like they’re just robots in autopilot doing a job, they want to feel cared for and want reassurance that their well-being is taken into account whilst working. The 2018 Global Talent Trends survey found that 1 in 2 employees want to see a greater focus on organisational well-being. Employers need to lead by example, and really instill a culture of wellness and well-being into the organisation, in everything they do. For example, it may be slightly controversial to expect your employees to be on email 24/7 and then say a core value is a work-life balance. There are many well-being initiatives which don’t need to break the bank, from offering mental health days, doing group boot camps in the local park to providing a healthy snack station and weekly or even monthly mindfulness sessions.
Work / life balance
The golden question remains, can one truly and fully switch off from the corporate mindset, and leapfrog into the personal once? Or are the two too intertwined, especially with the potential to be connected 24/7? Employees are constantly striving to achieve a healthy balance, and often struggle when they cannot fully attain it. Encouraging employees to take time out during the day, be it multiple coffee breaks or a proper lunch hour, and not bombarding them with emails, deadlines and requests over the weekend and in the evening will cultivate a feeling of compassion and confidence, that in turn will allow employees to feel at ease and not guilty for asking for (necessary) time off.
Belonging and community
There’s a lot to be said about connection, feeling a part of the greater whole and ultimately that you belong and are not an outsider. Employers Should make it their responsibility to ensure that their entire workforce feels a part of the business, that they all feel cared for and happy to be at work. Within all companies, there the quiet ones, the more introverted members of the team who are not as loud and often may not be seen. With the unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness, especially while working from home during a global pandemic, there’s more reason now than ever, to ensure this sense of community and make sure employees are listened to and measures are put into place to ensure a sense of togetherness. This will ultimately drive productivity and increase performance levels as employees will feel connected, empowered and heard.
If you were to ask your employees if being recognized and acknowledged were key, the majority, if not all, would shout YES! Recognizing employees for a job well done and going the extra mile can truly make all the difference on so many levels. As soon as someone’s hard work and efforts have been acknowledged, this has the power to multiply more great work and propel an employee forward, which ultimately creates a motivated and passionate corporate culture. There are umpteen ways to recognize your team. Employees often thrive off peer-to-peer and social recognition, where employees can nominate each other, as ultimately it is they who see the day to day workings of the team. Public recognition can have the domino effect, as once employees see the benefits, it may encourage them to go that extra step too, which will help boost employee satisfaction and overall well-being.
Treated with respect and dignity
This is another biggie! If you ask anyone in the workplace what they really want – to be treated with respect and dignity will be high up on the list! It is a basic human value, which has deep reaching ramifications. Employers can easily demonstrate this notion which will have an invaluable impact. Simply put, talk with respect. Choose the right words and tone. Listen to the concerns of your employees, take their feedback seriously, don’t criticize and humiliate in front of the whole team, encourage employees to express their ideas and opinions, do not nit-pick over little things or patronize… the list is endless!
Purpose and motivation
Employers often jazz up the workspace with ping pong tables, pool tables, a bar or a chill out room with the desired intention to motivate their teams. This is a great tactic and has numerous positive swing offs, but is there more to being motivated and feeling a sense of purpose? Motivation is an employee’s intrinsic enthusiasm and what lets them take action to propel forward. Employees really want to be motivated, feel like they have a purpose and are contributing to the greater whole. Often a sense of purpose may be overlooked in today’s profit focused world. In addition, businesses need to find realistic ways to motivate different generations and a multi-cultural workforce in tandem. Employees want to feel respected and worthwhile and that their input matters – this is key for real motivation and purpose.
Job and personal progression
Employees want to know they have the opportunity to climb the ranks in an organisation, nobody likes a dead-end, feeling stuck with nowhere to go. As your business grows and develops, so should your employees. Have structures in place where employees can become experts in their area, where training and learning opportunities are always available, be it online courses, mentor-ships and job shadowing. Set KPIs and have bonus structures in place to motivate employees to excel. Progression should be reviewed constantly so processes do not become stale and obsolete. Employees want to have their personal interests taken into account, knowing what they do day-to-day contributes to the bigger picture in a notable manner, be it across all hierarchical levels.