A happy employee is a loyal and hard-working one. But what really makes an employee jovial on the job? A raise? More vacation time? A fun work environment? We did some research and, as it turns out, there are many less obvious wants and needs driving the modern-day professional.
Here are the top eight things employees want from leadership, but may not tell you.
1. Better Technology
Everything we do today hinges on technology, and this truth is no greater than in the workplace. Few things frustrate employees as much as technology that:
- Doesn’t exist
- Doesn’t work properly
- Doesn’t help them do their jobs better
The question no longer is whether to adopt technologies like a cloud solution, telephony system, office management software or mobile applications. The question is, how do you keep your business technology up-to-date? Furthermore, how do you integrate tools and software that enhance efficiency and productivity?
The good news is today’s business technology offers limitless customization. It’s also more affordable than ever, especially if you choose hosted solutions that don’t require hardware investments.
2. Mobility and Flexibility
The Millennial workforce is 53.5 million strong, making up more than one-third the total American workforce. Unlike their predecessors, Millennials grew up with the Internet for the majority of their lives. Technology skills are practically second nature for this generation, and they’re constantly using this knowledge to look for ways to achieve a better work-life balance. They have just as many ambitions outside the office as they do inside.
More than any other generation, Millennials want mobile software and technology to support their “work smarter, not harder” mentality. They’re comfortable with it, and they get more done when they have the freedom and flexibility to work the hours they want. More often than not, this autonomy makes millennials even more productive.
According to the most recent statistics, 50 percent of U.S. jobs are mobile-compatible and a whopping 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce says they would like to telework, at least part-time. Providing these options is a major selling point for Millennial employees.
3. Work-Life Balance
Ultimately, mobility and flex scheduling comes down to better work-life balance. Statistically, an accommodating work environment is actually better for companies on several levels. A major study (outlined in an article on whitehouse.gov) examined more than 700 firms in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany and revealed a “significant positive relationship between work-life balance practices and total factor productivity.”
The key benefits of providing a flexible schedule and telecommuting capability include:
- Reduced absenteeism
- Lower turnover rate, higher loyalty and longer tenure
- Improved employee health
- Greater productivity
- Less overhead
But employers and employees don’t always see eye to eye on what constitutes a flexible schedule. A recent survey indicates that 67 percent of employers feel their workers have enough flex in their work schedule to balance work and life, while 45 percent of employees disagreed. This is one of those times when increased communication can pay off for everyone.
You know the saying “a happy home is an organized home”? The same goes for an office. People are process-oriented beings who like order and predictability (in the workplace, at least).
The challenge faced by companies today is finding a way to build structure in both the physical and digital realms of business. Without logical processes that align with department responsibilities and goals, an effective system for accessing and storing files, and clearly defined expectations, employees feel like they’re juggling a vague number of duties. The stress of dropping the ball on even one of these tasks makes for an unpleasant work situation.
Organization begins with the leadership team, and trickles down through the rest of the organization. Set your team up for success with a universal workplace management software to wrangle information and better interpret how each department is performing.
5. Continued Education
According to Fortune magazine’s annual list of the world’s best companies, the highest ranking companies give employees 40 to 60 hours of training and education each year. Believe it or not, your employees don’t want to stop learning.
As you know, successful people are insatiable learners—we want to become top experts in our trade. Like you, your employees want to be innovators, able to walk into a room of peers and lead the conversation. Be it certification programs, seminars, webinars or opportunities to earn additional degrees, the modern-day professional is extremely hungry for more knowledge.
Does it surprise you to know that 54 percent of employees say they don’t feel respected at work? How does your company show respect to employees? How does it encourage employees to show respect to one another?
Positive reinforcement and respect makes employees feel safe, valued and fairly treated. And this is a work environment that inspires innovation. The equation is simple: the more respected and appreciated employees feel, the more likely they are to share their ideas and raise the bar.
But employees don’t just want to get respect—they want a reason to give respect. They want a leadership team worthy of their hard work and loyalty. They want a company they can feel proud of, and that ball is in the C-suite’s court.
7. Parental Leave and Childcare
Women make up about 50 percent of the workforce today—but the desire for parental leave isn’t just for working moms. Gender roles have dramatically changed over the past few decades, and fathers are sharing just as much of the parenting responsibility as mothers. And yet, the United States ranks last among developed countries for paid parental leave. Not to mention, our current policies don’t cover new parents in adoption or surrogate scenarios. Both mothers and fathers agree that nearby childcare would greatly improve their work experience.
8. Fewer Meetings
Of employees polled in a recent Harris survey, 48 percent said they’d rather do almost anything instead of sitting in another work meeting. This reaction makes perfect sense when you consider these employees also claim to spend about 8.5 hours per week either sitting in or preparing for meetings. Imagine the most intense deadline hanging over your head like a guillotine poised to execute, and you must drop everything for a “weekly round-up” that could be conveyed by email and reviewed at a more convenient time. Nerve-wracking, isn’t it?
Of course, meetings are an integral part of any business. While it’s impossible to give up this necessity, it’s important to keep meetings quick and efficient with streamlined agendas and a hard end-time.
Give Your People What They Want
If there is one certainty in business, it’s that the landscape is only growing more complex, competitive and fast-paced. Now, more than ever, you need to protect the talent you have, draw the best new industry talent in and nurture innovation from within. The only way to find out what your people really want and need is to ask them.
Uplifting an entire company culture will involve working through pain points from the ground up. But the benefits of a happy work environment are inarguable, and the potential of an elated employee is limitless.
Flexibility is one of the key drivers behind happy employees. Learn how you can achieve this employee expectation in our free eBook, Wide Open Workspace.