Let’s be honest, do you really think the annual employee survey measures the motivation and satisfaction in your organization? You wouldn’t check in with your friends and family once every year to see how they’re getting on, so why is it commonplace for employees to be given the chance to voice their opinions so infrequently? Not only do these surveys often take such a long time to fill in (and just think about how valuable those hours could be when used on more productive things), but the data collected by HR departments can be overwhelming, resulting in analysis taking months to be completed. Often, it simply isn’t accurately examined at all.
An alternative to annual employee surveys is weekly reflection meetings, which can help improve … [+]
A good example is that of UPS, which in 1997 was hit by staff strike just ten months after having received impressive marks for employee morale in its annual survey. Whilst the survey had found that employee satisfaction was very high, it had failed to uncover bitter complaints about the proliferation of part-time jobs within the company, which was a core issue during the strike.
Not only are they inefficient, staff don’t like them either. A study by Officevibe revealed 70% of employees don’t respond to annual surveys, with 29% thinking that they are pointless. 80% didn’t believe that HR managers would act on survey results…
Instead, measuring satisfaction and engagement levels regularly and over time will allow a company to understand which processes, practices and perks are working, and more quickly change or remove the ones that aren’t. With more frequent gauging of employee happiness and engagement, companies can resolve issues much quicker and in turn make lasting improvements to culture and processes, while employees will appreciate having their voices heard more frequently.
Weekly reflection meetings can help improve individual and collective team performances because they allow us to analyze the behaviours and actions that need to be repeated, adapted, and avoided.
But how do you keep employees, particularly the younger post-millennials and Generation Z’s, motivated in the first place? Consider what you can offer them beyond their salary.
It’s a misconception that millennials don’t care about financial remuneration, because they do want to be paid fairly for what they do, but ultimately they want more than just a paycheck at the end of the month. The fascinating results from the 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Culture report show that 86% of millennials would consider taking a pay cut if it meant they could work at a company which shared the same mission and values. Compared to the 9% of babyboomers who stated this, this is the perfect illustration of how different these two generations are when it comes to their expectations of work.
Workplaces have undergone something of a revolution in recent years, with the introduction of millennials bringing about genuinely positive changes across the board. From mental health support to flexible working, and even on-site gyms, many employers are now providing their staff with perks that are designed to keep them happy, engaged, and ultimately from a more selfish perspective, loyal. A millennial is going to expect a nicely designed office kitted out with technology, and would baulk at the grey, soulless cubicles that previous generations had to endure.
While some of these ‘extras’ might not seem like much, they are often the difference between a company holding onto their best employee and losing her or him to a competitor. From a recruitment standpoint, they can be extremely powerful as they allow companies to compete against each other not only on the salaries they can offer, which in turn levels the playing field somewhat. Today, startups that offer more freedom and a happier working environment are capable of poaching someone from a multinational, even if they can’t necessarily match them on pay.
Employee perks can be traced back to the 1950s. Prerequisites, as they were originally called, were, as they are today, designed to motivate staff and encourage loyalty. Company cars, stock options, and of course, free coffee, were all the rage, but they seem very unimaginative when compared to what is offered today.
One startup called Chartbeat has its own designated ‘Puppytorium’, with workers allowed to bring their pooches into the office. Boxed Wholesale offers $20,000 to each employee to cover wedding costs, while startup Hotjar grants €4,000 to its staff so that they can design their perfect home office. We as a company relocate our whole team to a different city around the world every year. Flexible working is one of the most popular and prevalent perks because if used responsibly it can build relationships between employee and employer, and can improve productivity and reduce the risk of burnout. In Sweden, new parents are given 240 days between them. These concepts would have been utterly unimaginable to an office worker in the 1950s, showing the progress that has been made.
From this, we can see that there has been a transformative shift in the types of perks now being offered. None of the more old-school perks had a direct impact on the recipients’ happiness and mental health, with companies only recently realizing that benefits can be hugely effective without always being so intrinsically linked to material wealth.
In 2015, Glassdoor found that nearly four in five employees wanted benefits rather than pay increases. Break this down by demographic and it gets really interesting, with this being the case for 82% of women, 76% of men, and a whopping 89% of younger employees (aged 18-34) compared to 66% of those aged 55-64. Despite millennials growing up in a much more financially unstable economy when compared to babyboomers, it’s clear that money does not mean everything.
Some argue that the likes of free food and sleeping pods make employees feel obliged to stay late in the office and encourage negative work practices, so it’s important to consider how perks might be perceived by staff before they’re implemented company-wide. Of course, some perks will work well at some companies, but terribly at others, and so must align with company values and identity.
Stop sucking the energy out of your employees with the dreaded annual survey, and start offering them perks that they will genuinely appreciate. You’ll soon see how your company culture, and performance, flourish.