8 Things Employees Need Most And How To Give It To Them

Years ago, a business owner sat talking on the phone while employees frantically put up a show booth after its shipment to the trade show was delayed.

As attendees filtered into the hall, employees were still stapling background signs and assembling product.

The owner never moved to help preferring to sit down amongst the boxes and talk to his daughter.

When the booth was ready, he got up and walked away without even a thank-you to the staff.

Six months later, when he died, not a single employee from that group attended his funeral.

Pay is important. But pay only goes so far.

Employees want more than a raise.  Higher wages won’t cause employees to automatically perform at a higher level.

Commitment, work ethic, and motivation are not based on pay.

According to Jeff Haden, to truly care about the business, employees need eight things—and they need them from senior managers:

  1. Freedom: Best practices can create excellence, but every task doesn't deserve a best practice or a micro-managed approach. 
    Autonomy and latitude breed engagement and satisfaction. Latitude also breeds innovation. Even manufacturing and heavily process-oriented positions have room for different approaches.
    Whenever possible, give your employees the freedom to work they way they work best.
  2. Targets: Goals are fun. Everyone is at least a little competitive, if only with themselves. Targets create a sense of purpose and add a little meaning to even the most repetitive tasks. Without a goal to shoot for, work is just work. And work by and of itself isn’t fun.
  3. Mission: We all like to feel a part of something bigger. Striving to be worthy of words like "best" or "largest" or "fastest" or "highest quality" provides a sense of purpose.
    Let employees know what management wants to achieve, for the business, for customers, and even the community. And if management can, let them create a few missions of their own.
    Caring starts with knowing what to care about—and why.
  4. Expectations: While every job should include some degree of latitude, every job needs basic expectations regarding the way specific situations should be handled. Criticize an employee for expediting shipping today, even though last week that was the standard procedure if on-time delivery was in jeopardy, and the company can lose that employee.
    Few things are more stressful than not knowing what the boss expects from one minute to the next.
    When standards change make sure you communicate those changes first. When you can't, explain why this particular situation is different, and why you made the decision you made.
  5. Input: Everyone wants to offer suggestions and ideas. Deny employees the opportunity to make suggestions, or shoot their ideas down without consideration, and robots are created.
    Robots don't care.
    Make it easy for employees to offer suggestions. When an idea doesn't have merit, take the time to explain why. Every idea can't be implemented, but management can always make employees feel valued for their ideas.
  6. Connection: Employees don’t want to work for a paycheck; they want to work with and for people.
    A kind word, a short discussion about family, a brief check-in to see if they need anything... those individual moments are much more important than meetings or formal evaluations.
  7. Consistency: Most people can deal with a boss who is demanding and quick to criticize... as long as he or she treats every employee the same. (Think of it as the Tom Coughlin effect that led to the Giants Super Bowl win.)
    While a manager should treat each employee differently, he or she must treat each employee fairly. (There's a big difference.)
    The key to maintaining consistency is to communicate. The more employees understand why a decision was made the less likely they are to assume favoritism or unfair treatment.
  8. Future: Every job should have the potential to lead to something more, either within or outside your company.
    Peter Drucker pointed out that individuals do not leave most jobs because of poor treatment, lack of pay raises, or other reasons.  They most often leave for the perceived opportunity to improve themselves.

Employees will care about your business when you care about them first,