What matters most to you at work? In recent history, ‘employee experience’ has become something that is critical to the business. If you can entice good talent with the very best perks, then you will have a great business, right? Well, that pie-in-the-sky company that offers three square meals, massages, fitness memberships, ad nauseam has quickly become the norm—particularly in the tech sector. What I love about this trend is that it is forcing companies to truly look inward and figure out that what might entice top talent to join is not necessarily what will sell them once they are in. While many of these things are “nice-to-have,” below are the things I have found that really matter.
People want to be trusted. You hired them as experts in their area, right? When micromanaging and watching their every move is the default setting either in your organization as a whole or in specific departments, you will see employees go to another company that doesn’t do that (and probably also caters lunch). This behavior is not only a reflection of the trust you didn’t give that employee but the trust you have in your recruiting and hiring team. The numbers also agree with me, with 61% of employees saying that trust is critical to their job satisfaction. So, ask yourself: am I trusting the people I hire by giving them strategic-level goals and objectives and then getting out of their way so they can apply their skills, knowledge, and experience to accomplish those goals?
Where do people fit in an organization once they have outgrown their role? People want to grow, and if they are doing a great job but not getting anywhere, they will look elsewhere for their next growth opportunity. It is not enough to recognize the people who are doing well; you also need to make sure people are given opportunities to grow. When you build a workforce that has invested their career and growth in your company, that is where the true key to success lies. As Richard Branson is often quoted saying, “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.”
You often hear people say they “felt like a number” at certain jobs. When your company culture is built in such a way that makes people feel unimportant, that is how they are going to treat the others connected with the business, including colleagues, partners and customers. How do you create a culture of connection without forcing it? Company-sanctioned events, employee recognition, and even paid family leave give people a sense of belonging. But, more than anything else, a strong connection between employees and their manager is critical to people feeling appreciated. As a leader, if you can interact with your co-workers, celebrate their achievements, and also celebrate some of the personal ones too, you have a solid foundation that meaningfully connects both their work and their personal life. This is especially true of the younger generations. Find those connection points and use them to build your workforce up.
So, as you find yourself “selling” your company to potential talent in the hopes that they will join, consider this: will the newness of material perks wear off, leaving your team looking for more? Or will they find a company where they truly belong? From my point of view, a free lunch won’t keep folks around unless they feel valued and appreciated.