OK, so you want your people to stay. And you want these people to not only be hard-working, and highly-skilled, but also engaged, happy, and to be positive advocates for your business or brand? Seems like a tall order. But making it happen is actually pretty simple: give people what they want.
I’ll cover the key things that employees really want out of a job and company beyond salary—and a range of ways to help provide these things.
People want to know how they’re doing and where they’re heading. Give them a clear path for their trajectory with defined role expectations, reasonable and achievable goals to get to the next level, a corresponding timeline, and regular progress check-ins.
Be open to exploring role evolution. Hybrid roles can sometimes be just the thing, or in some cases, it’s most effective to make up new roles to fit the changing needs of the business and the skillset of the person.
2. Recognition and celebration
Milestones matter. Acknowledge things like product launches, extra efforts from individuals or teams, and positively note wins and losses. Recognition for good, hard work builds morale. Celebrate anniversaries and promotions thoughtfully and publicly. People notice.
Do these things all in a way that feels true to your company’s values and brand. This is an opportunity to make your own traditions or perhaps enhance existing ones.
Little things go far. Recognize when someone might be struggling. Show compassion. Say thank you often. Send a note of praise to those you manage.
3. Reward beyond salary
There’s more to feeling valued than just income. Generous parental leave (with things like paid “keep in touch days”) can be a major bonus. Consider both formal and informal learning and development opportunities (from sponsoring a night class on UX design to internal employee-led skillshares). Can’t afford the annual bonus this year? Maybe offer additional days of holiday instead. And if your business has multiple locations, options for permanent or short-term transfers can be very appealing.
4. Someone or something to rally behind
We all want something we can get behind. Authentic and transparent leadership unites people and fuels loyalty. Let people know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and how it may impact them.
Be clear and consistent about your purpose—whether it’s your company’s mission or the aim of the project at hand—to give work meaning.
Human beings are tribal by nature, we need community. Create safe, supportive groups for employees—which can be based on shared passions or skills, or shared identity. The more grassroots-focused, the better.
If you have a bunch of cyclists, maybe one of the groups you create is a cycling club. Perhaps it’s an LGBTQIA+ affinity group or one focused on Women’s Empowerment. Or a public-speaking practice group. Or all the above. And if you’re in a smaller company, a club can be just two people!
What matters is that people can bring their full selves to work, connect meaningfully with others, and feel they have the support of the business to do so.
6. Flexibility and balance
Offer wellbeing breaks during the workday. This can be a policy like blocking the lunch hour to ensure employees feel supported to either take time for themselves, or to participate in more structured offerings like yoga or fitness classes.
Not everyone is into video calls. Instead of defaulting to them, offer the option for audio calls and encourage walk-and-talk meetings (especially good for regular one-on-one chats).
Be flexible when it comes to new configurations of working, with individual needs in mind. Some folks have kid duties, some are morning people, some definitely aren’t. There’s a reason four-day-work weeks and flexible hours are becoming more common—people want them.
In conclusion . . .
Hopefully, you can walk away with a few sparks of inspiration that you can take into your own businesses, no matter the size. And remember, while money is great, there’s a whole lot more you can provide to motivate people at work.