We live in a time when culture plays a bigger role in employee retention than compensation. American employees are now willing to sacrifice their pay for a better, more enjoyable work environment. A recent study released by Fidelity Investments proves that money cannot buy happiness for millennials entering the workforce, revealing that, on average, millennials are willing to take a $7,600 pay cut in exchange for a better “quality of work life.”
Who could blame them? The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average full-time employee in the United States spends 8.8 hours a day at work. Who would want to spend over a third of their day working at an organization that neglects their happiness and satisfaction? This has left business owners around the country wondering how to keep their employees happy.
As employees begin to adjust the way they approach their employment options, it’s time for employers to adapt and make their own adjustments to the way set up their organizations. Instead of trying to entice candidates and encourage retention among current employees with high salaries, executives should be looking for ways to make their office a place where employees are excited to spend their valuable time.
Sounds like a tough task, right? I mean, unless you’re a Luxury Bed Tester or a Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Guru, it’s not particularly easy to be excited about going into work on a Monday morning. However, executives are going to need to think outside the box and change their traditional management styles to stay ahead of the curve on this recent trend.
It seems like executives are ready to take these steps, too. Earlier this year, my employer, DATIS HR Cloud, surveyed over 280 executives regarding their top priorities for 2017. Respondents included a mix of CEOs, CFOs, CHROs and even some CIOs. The second-highest priority of this year, behind recruiting, was employee satisfaction. Here are some proven, surprisingly simple steps for executives to take to make work more enjoyable and satisfying for their employees.
Encourage social connections within the office
I know what you’re thinking. “James, wouldn’t social connections distract my employees from the work I pay them to do?” Good question, reader. However, I’ve found that enabling better relationships among coworkers actually does wonders for employee satisfaction and productivity.
For starters, when employees are friends with one another, they generally feel more connected to their organization and more excited about coming into work each morning. According to Gallup, close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent, and employees with a best friend at work are generally seven times more engaged.
Strong coworker relationships also help when it comes to collaboration within the office. Encouraging employee connections breaks down barriers between coworkers and makes working together and cooperation much simpler.
There are many ways in which you can improve and encourage social connections within your workforce. Celebrating birthdays around the office, motivating employees to eat lunch together, hosting out-of-the office outings and arranging fun activities among coworkers are simple, cost effective ways to improve relations among your employees.
Give employees purpose
Employee satisfaction and job fulfillment go hand-in-hand. Employees feel the most satisfied at work when they know that they are doing meaningful work and working towards something special. This evokes a kind of emotional connection to their job that simply cannot be recreated or artificially manufactured. However, there are elementary management tactics that executives and leaders can utilize to stimulate this feeling of fulfillment and bring it to top of mind.
First, reiterate to your employees that they’re a valuable asset to your team and the work they're doing is contributing to the overall success of the organization. This is not only great for employee morale, it also reinforces purpose in the work they’re doing.
Recognizing and celebrating individual achievements also plays a large role in employee fulfillment and satisfaction. I personally feel that we don’t give one another enough credit in the office. We should be congratulating our coworkers when they reach personal and professional goals. This brings a workforce together and motivates others to achieve similar success in their own roles.
On a side note, studies show that transparency when it comes to personal and professional goals in the office also greatly improves productivity. A survey commissioned by Betterworks found that an astounding 92 percent of employees would work harder if their coworkers could see their goals.
My last tip to improve employee satisfaction around your office is to simply be understanding. Believe it or not, your employees have lives outside of work. They have families, friends, hobbies and passions. But, they also face real life problems that put their physical and mental strength to the test. Being understanding and supportive when these problems arise is essential.
I’m sure you’ve encountered events in your life that are out of your control. When these events happen, it helps to have support from the company that you dedicate so much of your time to. Just knowing that your managers are there for you when times get tough is a truly great feeling.
Employees are your organization’s greatest asset. If you don’t keep them happy, they’ll find another company that will -- it’s that simple. High salaries and compensation packages are a great way to attract talent, but are no longer a proven way to retain it. Fostering a company culture that provides employees with a better quality of work life is the new way to build for a stronger tomorrow.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.