The Surprising Perk Employees Want That Costs the Company Nothing Many startups offer free meals and ping-pong but employees most value open communication.

By Matt Straz

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Ping-pong tables, daily catered lunches and company happy hours grace many of today's startups. However, perks like these aren't as important to employees as employers might think. While no one is likely to turn down free food or a ping-pong challenge, there's one thing in particular employees value above fun work perks.

Based on a recent 15Five survey of more than 1,000 workers nationwide, 81 percent of employees said they would rather join a company that values "open communication" than one that offers great perks such as free food, gym memberships and the like. What's more, the same survey found that only 15 percent of employees are satisfied with the quality of communication within their companies.

In an effort to keep the conversation going at work, here are four ways to create a work environment based on open communication:

1. Be visible and available.

Whether that means taking down the cubicle walls or occasionally strolling around the office, the key is to be visible and available. After all, employees are sometimes shy about approaching their boss. To make communication easier (and less nerve-racking), consider adopting an "open door" policy.

Having an open door policy demonstrates a high level of accessibility and encourages employees to stop by with ideas, comments, concerns, etc. Not to mention, an open door policy promotes a culture of open communication, which results in better workplace relationships and an improved flow of information. Go ahead and throw out that "Do Not Disturb" sign.

Related: Why Having an 'Open-Door' Policy Is Imperative for a Scaling Company

2. Create a transparent workplace.

Opening the office door to employees is just the beginning. To truly achieve open communication within the workplace, employers must strive to maintain a sense of transparency with employees. Not only does it make employees feel valued, it builds a strong foundation of trust between management and employees.

To create a transparent workplace, start by actively communicating both informal and formal company updates with employees. These updates could be included in a company-wide newsletter or simply mentioned at the beginning of a company meeting. What matters is that employees are kept in the loop.

Looking to take it a step further? Consider sharing financial information with employees. When employees know how the business is performing and can see the financial results of their efforts, individual performance and motivation can improve significantly.

Related: Should Your Salary Be Made Public?

3. Hold open-ended meetings.

Involve the entire team in weekly meetings. Open-ended meetings, in particular, give employees an opportunity to voice their thoughts and ideas. Some employees are more inclined to give their two cents than other employees, however.

For employees who are less likely to express themselves in front of their coworkers, try following up with individuals after these meetings. Sometimes the employee who sits quietly during the team meeting is the one who has the most to say. Tailoring communication methods to individual employees not only boosts communication in the workplace, it shows employees that their input is valued.

Related: 6 Easy Ways to Make Meetings Fun -- Or At Least, Not Suck

4. Establish a better grievance system.

Establishing a grievance system that actually works can be tough. Employers can (and should) ask for feedback during performance check-ins or team meals, but it's a lot easier to provide honest feedback when there's a sense of anonymity. Employees tend to be more honest when anonymous.

As an alternative, establish a system through which employees can feel safe making comments and suggestions. In other words, give them a way to provide feedback without having their name attached. Try conducting employee surveys that enable employees to anonymously provide comments and suggestions.

Related: 6 Ways to Grow With Your Company

Matt Straz

Founder and CEO of Namely

Matt Straz is the founder and CEO of Namely, the HR and payroll platform for the world's most exciting companies.

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