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Meeting employee needs has the power to keep professionals engaged, boost company culture and attract new talent. Neglecting employee needs can have a devastating opposite effect. Most employers cover the basic needs — salary, benefits and the tools needed to perform the job. But employees want more — and employers aren’t providing what they really need in a workplace.
Related: Seven Ways to Boost Employee Morale
Here are some lesser-known employee needs and how employers can meet them to keep their teams happy and engaged:
1. Personal connections
Workplace relationships are an important part of job satisfaction, but relationships between coworkers aren’t the only ones that matter.
Employees want to have personal relationships with their employer as well. In a survey of U.S. and Canadian employees conducted by Virgin Pulse this year, 19 percent of respondents said they want their employers to care about their social well-being. In addition, 60 percent said their relationship with their employer positively impacts their focus or productivity at work, while 44 percent said it positively impacts their stress levels.
Providing tools for team collaboration and holding team building activities aren’t enough — leadership and management need to actively participate. Build personal relationships with employees and talk to them about subjects outside of work. Integrate into the team to bridge the gap between employer and employee and create a collaborative environment.
2. Financial support
Employees care about their paychecks, and salary is a significant part of job satisfaction. But employees are more concerned with their finances overall, and want employers to take an interest as well.
In fact, in the Virgin Pulse survey 40 percent of employees wished their employers cared more about their financial well-being. Among more than 400 human resources professionals surveyed, 37 percent indicated that employees had missed work due to a financial emergency.
Although 81 percent of human resources professionals said they provide retirement planning and consultations to their employees, a majority don’t provide financial literacy training for investing, financial literacy training for basic budgeting or credit score monitoring. Ease financial stress by providing tools and education to help employees better understand and manage their money.
3. Emotional health
Employees don’t just care about money — they also want employers to care about their feelings. Among those surveyed by Virgin Pulse, 36 percent said they wanted their employer to care more about their emotional health.
Stress is a major problem among the American workforce that takes a serious toll on both employees and employers. In addition, conflicts among team members can go unnoticed by leaders, causing tension, unhappiness and other emotional effects. Open communication can keep employers better in-tune with the emotional well-being and needs of their employees. In fact, 81 percent of employees would rather join a company that values open communication than other trendy perks, a survey of 1,000 U.S. employees conducted by 15Five found.
Encourage employees to communicate problems and concerns openly and frequently. Check in regularly with each team member to help mitigate stress, diffuse conflicts and solve other problems.
4. Valuable work
Employees don’t want to just clock in, do their work and clock out every day. They want to contribute to the company and do meaningful work. As employees find more stable jobs, the meaning behind their work is becoming more important to their happiness and engagement. The company’s mission was one of the top reasons employees surveyed by Virgin Pulse said they love where they work. The importance of their employer’s mission has grown 20 percent from last year’s survey.
Although the driving force behind the company is becoming increasingly important, only 42 percent of employees surveyed by TINYpulse in 2013 knew their organization’s vision, mission and cultural values.
Educate employees about the company’s mission, and show how their work impacts it. Tell employees the outcomes of their hard work and explain how it contributes to the company’s overall mission. When employees know the impact of their work and care about the mission, they are more motivated and engaged.
What do you think? What do employees want that employers aren’t delivering?