While daily free breakfast, unlimited PTO and a well-stocked beer fridge might pique the interest of job-seekers, there’s more to attracting (and retaining) top talent than fun perks. After all, when it comes down to the day-to-day experience, even free bagels can’t make up for a lack of employee engagement.
In booming cities where experienced candidates have countless opportunities (and an upper hand in salary negotiations), companies have to do more to attract top talent and foster employee loyalty.
Here’s what top candidates and members of your current workforce really want:
1. Flexibility. 46 percent of employees say flexibility is the most important consideration when looking for a new job, according to the Staples Advantage Workplace Index survey. From open work hours and the ability to work remotely to having the freedom to handle family situations without being docked vacation time, workplace flexibility leads to more productive, engaged and happy employees.
2. Transparency. No one likes to find out about big news through the grapevine — and this is true of the workplace, too. When employees aren’t kept abreast of management decisions, it creates an environment of uncertainty. While it’s not necessary to include employees in every conversation, they should at least be informed ahead of changes and have the chance to ask questions.
3. An opportunity to provide feedback. A workplace shouldn’t be a dictatorship — at least not if you want people sticking around. When employees are empowered to share open and honest criticism or feedback, they’re also more comfortable receiving it in return. But don’t ignore the suggestion box. Make sure your workforce knows their feedback is being heard and considered.
4. A comfortable environment. Non-remote employees spend so much time at the workplace that it often becomes a second home. By creating a workspace that’s clean, comfortable and inviting, they’ll feel more enthusiastic about coming to work each day. And an aesthetically appealing office is often a selling point to job candidates, too.
5. Thorough onboarding. One of the most frustrating things for a new employee is being thrown into a new environment without process or instruction. If you want new hires to thrive and feel engaged from day one, you need to make sure they’re carefully immersed. Consider assigning new employees a mentor they can seek out for questions on everything from locating files to programming the coffee machine.
6. Ongoing training. The best employees are those who are hungry for knowledge and always looking for ways to advance their skill set. In fact, according to a workplace boredom study by Udemy. 46 percent of employees cited a lack of opportunity to learn new skills as a top reason for seeking a change. By providing regular opportunities for ongoing education — both during or after work hours — employees are less likely to feel stuck in a rut.
7. Autonomy. There’s something unnatural about one adult asking another adult for permission to work from home, leave early for a doctor’s appointment or take a break. If you’ve done a good job hiring capable, responsible employees, you don’t need to monitor where they are or how they spend their time. Employees want autonomy. And so long as the lines of communication stay open, there’s absolutely no reason not to grant them this wish.
Capturing the attention of top talent and keeping your current employees from seeking outside opportunities takes a great deal of effort. While perks may bring people in the door, it’s not enough to keep them long term. By offering these seven additional items, you’ll improve your environment and earn long-term employee loyalty.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.