What Do Employees Want?

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If you are looking for ways in which to keep staff at your business for longer, there is one question that you should be asking yourself above all the others: what do employees want? And while salary and benefits are obviously important, they are not everything. Many of the most successful businesses are the ones that work the hardest to keep their employees happy. Forward-thinking companies work to develop the staff they already have rather than constantly looking for new employees. They also treat their employees as a commodity rather than something that is expendable. Let’s take a look at many of the top things that employees want so you can tick off what you are offering.


Everyone wants to feel like they have a sense of purpose and that what they are doing is worthwhile. Employees want to be reassured of the importance of their job role as part of the wider company. So, one way that you can give employees that sense of purpose is by providing regular feedback. This way, you can tell them how their work is contributing to the company as a whole. You can also listen to their ideas in meetings and consider implementing some of them. People want to feel like they are making a difference in the business they are working for.


Goals go towards giving that sense of purpose that employees are looking for. As a business owner, you will know that if you aren’t working to achieve a particular goal, it is difficult to retain focus and commitment. The best goals are measurable and attainable. If they are too vague then people don’t know whether or not they have hit them and if they are too difficult then people can end up feeling frustrated. Once a goal has been achieved, there should be some sort of recognition of achievement before setting a new one.


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Now that the internet has provided so many more opportunities for flexible working, many talented staff members value this sense of freedom ahead of traditional salary increases. So, if you do have certain job roles in which you can offer a degree of flexibility, this will be greatly appreciated. Obviously, telecommuting requires a great deal of trust in your employees, but if you can rely on your staff members, they will reward you with high quality work. There are also plenty of cost benefits involved in implementing flexible working, so you should consider these as well.


Delegating can be a tricky part of being a manager, but it is an essential one. Not only does this make your life easier, but employees are looking for responsibilities to be passed onto them. Again, it all comes back to an issue of trust, and with this trust, comes the feeling of being valued. So, you should ask your employees if they feel comfortable taking on certain responsibilities rather than piling them on regardless.


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Of course, all the other things we have talked about are important, but let’s not downplay that employees are looking for a good salary and high-quality benefits. When you come to employing a new member of staff or giving out raises, it is worth doing some salary benchmarking so you can compare what you are offering to other companies. Pay rises should be incentivised so that staff work towards hitting certain predefined goals. Benefits vary from company to company, but sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference. So, taking staff out for a drink after completing a big project or giving them a present on their birthday can go a long way towards keeping them happy.


People generally don’t want to be micromanaged and would prefer a degree of autonomy when it comes to achieving a particular goal. So, once you have set goals in place, you should provide a degree of flexibility when it comes to achieving these aims. However, it also helps to have an open policy so people come to you directly when they are looking for help or support on a particular issue. There is no harm in checking how a certain project is going from time to time, but people generally don’t like the feeling that someone is constantly looking over the shoulder.

Opportunities for Innovation

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Sometimes, employees can become too focused on their main job role and feel that any creative thinking they are doing is extra. Google is one of the big-name companies to address this issue by allowing employees to be creative for 20 percent of their working hours. Though you may not be able to offer this sort of time, you can still have brainstorming sessions on a regular basis so people have the opportunity to discuss their ideas. This way, everyone feels like they are a part of coming up with new directions for your business to take.


A lot of companies suffer from being too opaque in their communication style when what people are looking for is transparency. So, regular and open communication can really make all the difference. This way, everyone feels like they are on the same page and working towards achieving the same aims. One of the main issues that businesses have is that people share their complaints with each other rather than feeling like they can take steps to make things better by talking to their managers.


Getting the balance between providing autonomy and attention is a difficult one, but employees are still looking for guidance and feedback where they can get it. Make a point of speaking to them on a regular basis, rather than just waiting until their annual performance review. Though delegating responsibilities is important, so too is showing that you care about what your employees are working on and how they are feeling.

Hopefully, this guide will have provided you with some more detail when it comes to answering the age-old question of what employees want so you can retain and develop your staff.

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