Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What Makes Employees Feel Valued?

The Labor Day holiday is intended to celebrate the contributions of America’s working class. That turns out to be most of us, given the relative few who are independently wealthy and the decreasing percentage of Americans who are currently unemployed. Perhaps this Labor Day week is also an appropriate time to reflect on what makes workers feel valued, given that those who feel valued are likely to be more productive and to stay in their jobs longer. As noted in the Harvard Business Review “Management Tip of the Day” for August 9, 2013, “When employees feel valued, they are more satisfied, willing to work longer, and motivated to do their best.”

Competitive pay and benefits matter, of course, but are clearly not sufficient. In a recent article from HowStuffWorks titled 10 Ways to Keep Employees Happy, the top three suggestions involved intangibles: building trust, providing consistent feedback, and giving respect. The Houston Chronicle recently reported that multiple forms of recognition, including but not limited to verbal recognition, can cause employees to feel valued and perform their best, but that the recognition needs to be in a form that matters to the worker involved. Not all employees want public praise, just as not all employees want free treats in the lunchroom. Employers should do their best to identify and respond to their employees’ recognition preferences.
Here at The Modern Workplace, we did our own informal survey and got the following responses to the question “What makes you feel valued?”

  • Verbal affirmations.
  • Being told “thank you.”
  • Others’ generosity in helping out and giving support.
  • Being recommended and getting referrals.
  • Having a sense of being part of a work family.
  • Being asked for advice and input.
  • Having and doing good work.
  • Achieving a good outcome.
  • Being paid.
  • Working with nice, respectful clients.
  • Being trusted with responsibility.
  • Feeling included.
  • Feeling that others are interested in your development.
  • Being supported in bad times, both personal and professional.

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