What Do Employees Really Want?

Building and retaining talented and engaged teams is a challenge that every employer faces. Finding your dream team is only the beginning. Juggling the ever-changing expectations and demands of what makes an employer of choice can be impossible. So, what do employees really want?

Overall employees want to feel a sense of well-being. They also want to feel connected to and part of something big and good.  No-one wants to just turn up to feel undervalued even if they are getting paid.

Employee wellbeing is essential for productivity and engagement in the workplace –  and it must extend beyond the office. Well-being covers every facet of our lives and work has an impact (negative and positive) on every single area. So, how do employers contribute to overall employee wellbeing?

1. Financial health

Yes, money is always going to be part of the equation. Everyone has bills to pay, mortgage payments, not to mention family commitments. Money is a necessity but not necessarily the primary driver. Ensure your team is paid for the contribution they make and that they feel rewarded and valued by the organisation.  

It is not just what they get paid now, but how they are planning for their future. The future is increasingly uncertain. Redundancy through innovation or restructure is more and more real for all of us every day.  How can employers help their team manage this? How can we ensure financial health? 

2.  Physical & Emotional health

What does this have to do with work? Besides the obvious mental health issues caused by stress, our general health can be affected by our work environment. Everyone wants to feel healthy, many of us want to be able to exercise and eat well – when we have the time. How can you as employer help your team with this?

More organisations are developing wellness and fitness plans for their employees – whether it is gym memberships, mental health days, wellbeing days or massages. There are lots of ways that organisations are trying to support their team with their general health and fitness. 

3. Social health

Having time with your family, friends and feeling part of the community is something everyone wants. Work/life balance hasn’t been the focus of HR for the last 10 years for no reason. This also extends to belonging within the workplace. Employees want to feel that they fit, that they are part of the community that is their team, department or company.  Many organisations are including community involvement as part of their wellness programs. These include volunteering days as well as becoming involved in charities or other community minded organisations.

4. Career health

Employees want the opportunity to learn, grow and develop in their career. They want a company that will help them build a career. Career progression or lack thereof is the second highest reason people leave their job. If your organisation isn’t offering pathways for your team to do this, then why should they stay?

Employers need to understand that the new generation of employees are ambitious, need constant communication and want to feel that they are moving forward, if not upwards. If you do have great staff than make sure you have a plan for them and share it. Don't hide your plans.

Employees want education, continuous learning opportunities and the support within the organisation to do this.  Completing a new qualification is still popular but there is a growing trend towards customised development. This can take on many forms - from attending special interest seminars, participating in webcasts and podcasts to executive coaching. Establishing a development and learning program will position your organisation for increased attraction and retention of talent.

In the past many employers have had the view – “this is not my problem?” especially to “non-career” issues.  Shouldn’t it be up to individuals to look after their own fitness regime or get their own financial planner to help them with their retirement? Leading employers are now taking a holistic approach to employee wellbeing.  The thinking is that with a “healthier” workforce, not only will employers get greater productivity, but they will also get increased loyalty and tenure, and therefore business success.