Why do people come to work?
Posted on: Wednesday April 07, 2021
It seems like a basic question, but there are complex factors affecting why employees choose to stay at your company. Read on as we unpack how to optimise your employee experience.
Does it pay me enough?
Of course we all go to work to get paid, and it’s important to keep in line with the market through regular internal and external benchmarking. However, it’s worth digging deeper into what motivates people who work at your company specifically.
If your employees know they would receive the same salary at a company down the road then what keeps them with you? What’s unique about your culture and how you treat people?
Paying more will certainly attract people, but keeping talent means making employees go home each day feeling good about what they’ve done.
Do I like the people I work with?
Social connections with our colleagues have taken a hit over the last year. Many of us have been working from home and interacting with workmates solely through a digital medium. Even in roles where employees have continued to attend their workplace, PPE and social distancing mean that it’s harder to build personal connections than before.
Strong social connections make work more enjoyable, as well as being good for career development, mental health and job performance. So it’s in everyone’s interests, but in the current environment employers may need to work harder to foster a sense of belonging.
Does my work make a difference – day to day and in the long run? What does it mean in the wider world?
We know that employees place importance not just on how well they perform day to day, but on how their work is making the world a better place. For those working in care homes, for example, the social value of their role is obvious, but other employees may appreciate the experience of doing good through CSR initiatives.
By linking their employer to shared social values, employees can build a deeper connection with their work and its relevance to the wider world. It’s no longer ‘just a job’ when a role delivers personal as well as professional value.
Do I enjoy what I do? Get satisfaction from doing my job well?
Problems occur when staff feel as though they are a cog in the machine but that their work has no real impact on the broader aspects of the business. This way their work becomes thankless and something of a chore that ‘must’ be done, and they are robbed of any sense of satisfaction that comes from working in their own way or coming up with their own solutions.
Autonomy is key in feeling ownership of your work. When the end product reflects you, you tend to put more work into it. And when that thing that you created succeeds – you feel proud of your achievement.
Some jobs offer less scope for autonomy than others, but as much as possible, trust staff to handle tasks in a way they see fit. Listen to your employees’ ideas and petition them for input, and when something they do goes well – celebrate and congratulate their contribution.
Does the company value me as a person as well as a production unit?
The COVID-19 crisis had seen wellbeing shift from a ‘nice-to-have’ model to become an essential part of any employee offer. It needs to form part of a holistic strategy which supports all aspects of employees’ physical, mental, social and financial welfare.
Organisations are increasingly recognising that the benefits of wellbeing provisions may extend beyond simple return on investment. Costs linked to absenteeism, presenteeism and employee turnover are areas of legitimate business concern, but it’s also worth considering the less tangible benefits. By demonstrating that you care about workers’ health, especially outside work hours, you become more attractive as an employer to those looking for new opportunities and increase engagement among existing employees.
Do I have the opportunity to learn and grow in my role?
The value to the business increases the longer an employee stays and performs well in their role. Providing opportunities to learn - either through CPD hours, mentoring from senior colleagues, or professional qualifications - is essential for increasing the value of your talent pool.
Employees may feel they have come to the end of the road with an employer because they’re not being challenged, or there’s nowhere to be promoted into. Employers need to make it clear that it’s possible to move roles around internally and there will always be room for talented individuals to grow with the business.
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