The pandemic has had dramatic ripple effects on the workplace, as evidenced by the Great Resignation, in which millions of people left their jobs in 2021. According to the Pew Research Foundation, people jumped ship due to such reasons as poor pay, feeling disrespected and few opportunities for career advancement.
While not every business can increase their pay or benefits, there are a lot of other ways that don’t cost much to make employees feel valued and important. Denise Conroy, a performance coach for executives in leadership and founder of Themy, says that valuing employees “is largely about making them feel seen.” She adds, “It requires attention, observation and communication.”
Here are nine free or low-cost ways companies can make their employees feel like a million bucks.
Tailor Communication to Individuals’ Needs
Communication is always important, but especially when you have multiple generations working within the same office, Conroy said. She tailors her communication method to her employees’ needs.
“Too often, leadership expects employees to cater to them. That’s the old command-and-control playbook, and it largely creates a one-way relationship. Asking about communication style is a game-changer for making people feel valued.”
Give Employees the Benefit of the Doubt
These past few years have been especially stressful, and still are for many. It’s easy to “go to Defcon one,” Conroy said. “Instead, we need to control our emotions and give the person in question the benefit of the doubt.”
Show that you value them as a person, not just for what they can do for the company.
Offer Development Opportunities
Conroy points back to one of the big reasons for the Great Resignation being that “people feel they don’t have a career trajectory or an opportunity to develop.” She believes, “We can fix that by offering more coaching, training and mentoring opportunities. None of these have to break the bank, and they show that we value our people and want them to grow.”
Discover Their Motivation
“Find out what motivates your employees. It shouldn’t be a one type of recognition — outside of those awarded based on metrics,” she said. “For some, it could be a handwritten card, a gift card, flowers, something that acknowledges an event in that person’s life.”
Still, others might prefer a more public appreciation, such as acknowledgment during a regional meeting, or an award to display.
Treat Employees Well
According to Ashley Anderson, partner and leadership coach at 10X Leadership Lab, “It’s been shown time and time again that what people really care about has less to do with stuff and more to do with how they are treated.”
Treating workers well can include such behaviors as active listening, caring about things beyond the workplace, giving employees autonomy and recognition, learning their career goals, and being generous in your assumptions and interactions with them.
Offer Flexible Hours
Probably one of the most valuable ways to make employees feel seen and appreciated is to give them flexible hours, said Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit. “The more you can offer your workers flexible hours, the chance to work from home, freedom to use their lunch breaks, flexibility with how they spend or save their PTO, and similar things, the more you’re going to let your employees maximize the value of their own time,” he said.
Letting an employee take an extra hour during the day to go to a doctor’s appointment and make it up later in the day can cost your company virtually nothing, but will make an employee’s life a lot easier.
Engage in Team Building
Companies employing Gen-Z workers should understand that they value an open and transparent channel of communication at work and the opportunity to help their coworkers, said Elena Jones, credit and personal finance expert and founder of Finance Jar.
“Many people believe that the spirit of competition is what propels you forward. In reality, teamwork is at the heart of everything that happens in the office. It all begins with simple task assistance for coworkers. Team leaders and employers should invest time in planning team-building activities such as company dinners to instill the values of the work community in their employees.”
Celebrate Wins Often and Loudly
Everyone wants to feel like they’re winning, said Logan Mallory, VP at Motivosity, a company that helps employees stay engaged in the office and remotely.
“When people are recognized for their day-to-day successes, they feel seen and valued and are both happier and more engaged at work. Public recognition can be an inspiration to other employees too — when they see their colleagues being recognized it can inspire them to do their best work too.”
Cover Cost of Co-Working Spaces
As more businesses shift to full or part-time remote capacity, employers who offer to pay a stipend for co-working spaces can support their employees’ mental health, said Calloway Cook, President of Illuminate Labs.
“Employees still have a need to socialize. Staying in the house all day can be harmful to mental health, especially for extroverted people. Providing a company stipend for co-working spaces is a relatively cheap way to improve employee happiness, because it allows them to experience the benefits of office life at their own time if they so choose,” Cook said.
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