Company Culture

The 4 Things Employees Want Most From a Job Cost Nothing

The 4 Things Employees Want Most From a Job Cost Nothing
Image credit: Andrew Rich Photography

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Attaining, training and retaining top talent isn’t easy, especially in today’s information age when immediate feedback and an over-stimulation (in the electronic sense) lead the way. Convincing a new prospect requires not only charm, charisma, and influence but also tangible and intangible rewards that people can expect to receive upon joining the workforce.

The 2015 list of best companies to work for is out, and it includes behemoths such as Google and The Boston Consulting Group ( consulting firm? Seriously?). What is the secret sauce that make people love their place of work? After all, the life of a consultant isn’t exactly awesome (I was one).

To identify the 100 best companies to work for, Great Place to Work conducted an extensive survey into the depths of corporate America. Two-thirds of the survey circled around trust, which measured employees’ attitudes toward their managers, their manager’s credibility, overall job satisfaction and the sense of team work. The remaining third inquired about culture, including benefit programs, hiring practices, internal communication methods, training, recognition programs and diversity efforts.

What does it take to be the best? Check out these four components to see how your company stacks up:

1. Opportunity to grow.

Humans have a fundamental need to self-actualize. The more your company offers people the chance to improve themselves, the better. Would you choose a job that leads to nowhere? Of course not. With opportunity comes autonomy because the more freedom you have, the greater meaning your decisions will have for yourself and for the company. That means (ideally) the motivation to perform well increases, too.

Related: The Fine Line Between What You Do and Don't Owe Employees

2. Fairness.

People want to be heard. The quickest way to demoralize employees is to ignore what they have to say. Nothing screams "you're not important" like turning your head during a conversation or, even worse, giving someone "the hand" (placing your hand in front of their face).

To have people buy-in (I hate that term) to a new initiative or project they need to be heard. That means listening to them express their concerns. Whether their two cents is useful isn't the point. Simply being heard is what’s important because it sends the message that their contribution is valued. It’s amazing what listening to someone for just 10 minutes out of the day will do.

Related: Four Ways to Foster Fairness in the Workplace

3. A clear and compelling purpose.

Simon Sinek’s famous TED talk and bestselling book explain why it’s important to understand the reasoning that drives decision making. “When you explain to people what you're trying to do, as opposed to just making demands or delegating tasks,” he explains, “you can build instant trust, even if it's just for that short time you're on the phone.”

However, clarity isn’t enough to instill happiness or compel action. A purpose needs to resonate emotionally to satisfy a personal need that aligns with people’s values and vision for how they seem themselves in the future.

4. Teamwork.

Working alone is, well, lonesome. Companies that promote teamwork and create a sense of “we” over a sense of “me” wield much greater employee engagement than those who reward individual achievement. However, it’s not just working together on a team that’s the driver here, but rather the environment created that facilitates togetherness. To accommodate the personality types of introverts and extroverts, companies should offer both open and enclosed work spaces that allow people to choose their own working environment so they can maximize their output.

Related: 6 Key Tips for Leading by Example