What Employees Really Want

group of co-workers high-fiving

According to Rick Conlow in his LinkedIn article “The Top 10 Things Employees Want From Their Job” organizations benefit greatly by addressing the question “What do employees really want?

Some of these benefits include higher employee engagement and productivity, lower turnover, better career advancement, improved customer service, and better teamwork and communication (which can lead to safer workplaces).

Today’s business climate puts more pressure on leaders and managers to develop strategies to retain workers and more effectively manage employee productivity.  What employees want can vary from person to person of course, but commonalities appear in published research over and over again.  Employee satisfaction is a key element to overall organizational culture, which translates to safety culture as well.  Consider this list of employee “wants” and how they can improve not only the bottom line but advance safety and health programs.

Purpose: People need to know that what they are doing has some importance. They want to make a difference.   

Goals: Goals can help instill a sense of purpose in employees.  Use the SMART Goal format: SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-oriented. Goals definitely provide direction for one’s effort.

Responsibility: Delegate to your employees.  In her Inc. Magazine article “10 Things Employees Want Most” Issie Lapowsky states “Employees crave your trust, and with that trust should come responsibility.” 

Autonomy:  Issie Lapowsky further states “Giving your employees freedom over how they work can actually make them more productive.”  Daniel Pink in “Drive: The Surprising Truth Over What Motivates Us” says “Let People figure out the best path to the goal, rather than breathe down their necks all the time.”

Flexibility: Flexibility in working hours allows employees to meet challenges of parenting, elder care, and issues that arise in the course of everyday living.  Employees need some degree of flexibility to meet work/life balances.  

Attention: Let people take responsibilities and provide constructive feedback for success and when there are opportunities for improvement.  Recognizing an employee for a job well done is priceless.

Opportunities: If not provided new opportunities, highly motivated employees may look elsewhere for new and interesting situations.

Transparency/Trust: According to leadership expert John Hamm, “Trust is the currency you will need when the time comes for you to make unreasonable demands on your teams.”  He goes on to say, “And when you are in that tight spot it’s quite possible that the level of willingness your employees have to meet those demands could make or break your company.” Employees want to trust, and they want to be trusted.

Compensation: A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.  Daniel Pink says, “The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.

The surprising thing is that 90% of this list does not involve additional cost; obviously a very important aspect in tight budgetary times.  Taking care of the people who work for your organization results in a positive culture that supports the mission and encourages everyone to do their best.  The impact this has on productivity, quality, and safety cannot be underestimated.  For further information on leadership development check out our resources at MEMIC.com or contact your MEMIC Safety Management Consultant. 

By Tony Jones