Managing Employees

The Top Thing Employees Want From Their Bosses, and It's Not a Promotion

The Top Thing Employees Want From Their Bosses, and It's Not a Promotion
Image credit: Kristof Magyar | Flickr

We're searching for top company cultures to be featured on our annual list. Think your company has what it takes? Apply Now »

It seems like most companies today are trying to attract and hold onto great talent by promoting the fact that they have a ping-pong table. A performance bonus here or a catered lunch there are sure to be welcome with open arms, but they aren’t what employees value most in the workplace.

While these perks can certainly make coming to work on Monday morning a bit easier, they don’t necessarily create an engaged and motivated workforce. Instead, give employees what they really want (and what employers can really afford): freedom.

Freedom over how they work

Each new employee brings with them a wealth of ideas, goals and processes. With no two employees being exactly alike, the value of their ideas can greatly impact the productivity of the workplace, if given the proper opportunity to voice them. Rather than limiting employees to a set of strict rules and policies concerning how work should be done, allow them to tap into their unique wellspring of ideas and practices.

Related: Apple's Tim Cook on Leadership: 'The Most Important Data Points Are People'

Recently at ClearCompany, we offered our newest hires the chance to redesign our training program. They were given very few restrictions, and as a result of that freedom they contributed new ideas that improved training for future hires -- all while gaining a sense of importance to the organization, from the start.

Employees appreciate having this sort of creative freedom. Not only does it allow them to experiment with their work and develop new ideas, but it instills trust between employers and their employees. One way to give employees more freedom over how they work is to shift the focus from to-do lists and deadlines to goals and objectives -- quantity to quality.

Dropbox, for instance, encourages creativity in the workplace by holding a “hack week,” during which employees are given the opportunity to work on anything they want (with the possibility that a cool hack could be launched). Employees don’t get much more creative freedom than that.

Freedom over when they work

It’s time to relinquish the nine-to-five work grind we’ve grown accustomed to for the simple fact that the number of hours an employee works is no indication of their level of productivity. Creating strict parameters intimidates employees rather than motivates them. Not to mention, some employees simply work better at certain times. Job flexibility allows employees to get their work done when it works best for them.

Give employees what they really want -- the freedom to design their own schedules. Embrace the changing workplace by giving employees flexible work options, such as alternative schedules or semi-flexible work hours. This not only boosts individual productivity, but it serves as an attractive benefit to job seekers.

Related: 3 Things Shared by Top Performing Teams, Whether on the Field or in the Office

Freedom over where they work

In addition to giving employees more freedom over when they work, consider taking it up a notch and letting them decide where they work. Employees are willing to sacrifice quite a bit to have more freedom over when and where they work.

In fact, according to a 2014 FlexJobs survey of 1,500 job seekers, 20 percent of respondents would take a 10 percent cut in pay for flexible work options. Why? For 74 percent of respondents, the answer is better work-life balance.

While offering employees telecommuting options is the ideal way to create more work-life balance, employers can also help employees balance their work and home life by implementing an unlimited paid-time-off policy, or even orchestrating company-sponsored family events and activities.

However employers decide to offer more freedom over how, when and where employees work, employees will appreciate these perks considerably more than the cliché ping-pong table and free grub.

What do you think? What other ways can employers create job satisfaction and engagement? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Related: Work-Life Compatibility: Why and How Leaders Should Promote It