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Survey Says: Honesty at the Office Is the Biggest Perk of All (Infographic) More than gym memberships, free food and ping-pong tables, employees want open conversation.

By David Hassell

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What do your employees really want? A shiny new ping-pong table in the office? Catered lunches? The option to work remotely?

How about the basic benefit of honest feedback?

A recent survey, conducted by 15Five, found that out of 1,000 full-time employees across the U.S., 81 percent would rather join a company that values "open communication" than one that offers perks such as top health plans, free food and gym memberships. Yet only 15 percent of workers surveyed said their current companies were doing a "very good" job fostering honesty at the office.

Related: Why Ownership Is Now a Favorite Employee Benefit

Millennials (aged 18-34) who make up 36 percent of the U.S. workforce and will account for nearly half by 2020, get an especially bad rap for having thin skins from growing up amid ample praise from parents, teachers and coaches. Yet they're even more apt than older colleagues to choose a company that values honest feedback over one that gives top perks. Eighty-four percent of Millennials said an open communication policy was more important than perks when choosing a job vs. 77 percent of boomers (aged 51-69).

Of course, the old-fashioned practice of managers only calling out missteps in quarterly or yearly performance reviews does little to motivate any employee and especially backfires with Millennials. So when it comes to honesty at the office, weekly communication -- not just quarterly check-ins -- is key.

Related: The Basics of Employee Benefits

Older managers who value independence and personal drive may balk at giving constant feedback to their younger employees, but if they adopt tools and procedures to make regular communication easier -- online platforms or weekly email check-ins -- then a culture of continual feedback becomes less onerous. Everyone benefits from a company culture where team members are encouraged to be honest, sharing both positive and negative feedback.

Companies that stifle communication suffer from high turnover, unhappy employees, low productivity and lost revenues. Truly open communication gives room for honest discussions about mistakes and how to improve performance.

Since honesty goes both ways, it's not just a manager saying, "You messed up." Instead, employees are invited to be honest, too, bringing up their own frustrations and sharing ideas for how to improve problems. This creates a culture of transparency where both employees and managers feel comfortable speaking up.

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Survey Says: Honesty at the Office Is the Biggest Perk of All (Infographic)

Related: Free Helicopter Ride, Anyone? 40 Awesome and Absurd Tech Company Perks (Infographic)

David Hassell

CEO and Founder of 15Five

David Hassell is the founder and CEO of 15Five, a leading employee engagement solution that helps create high performing teams by combining pulse surveys, weekly check-ins, peer recognition, and people analytics all in one platform. 

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