Seek long-term Solutions for Making Employees Feel Valued

Posted: May 2, 2024
Category: Spotlight on Business

When human resource professionals quote statistics, we should remember that the numbers they cite represent real people. The dynamics between employers and employees can be slippery, with both sides grappling to get a firm foothold. Since the typical person spends one-third of their life at work, finding common ground acceptable to both parties is essential. Our experience in the past few years has transformed employees’ expectations. They are looking beyond a paycheck and thinking about how their job makes them feel—deepening their self-awareness and sense of worth. “The intent to leave or stay in a job is only one of the things people are questioning as part of the larger human story we are living,” says Caitlin Duffy, Research Director at Gartner. “You could call it the “Great Reflection … it’s critical to deliver value and purpose.”

While it is evident that an attitude shift is occurring in the workplace, some employers may continue to apply outdated principles that hurt rather than help the situation. The pandemic gave people time to question their purpose and reflect on the things they value. According to Gardner, a Management Consultant Company, employees want more value from their jobs. The organization refers to this personal need as “The Human Deal,” which includes the following five components:

  • Deeper Connections. Feeling understood through family and community connections, not just work relationships.
  • Radical Flexibility. Feeling autonomous in all aspects of work, not just when and where it gets done.
  • Personal growth. Feeling valued through growth as a person, not just as a professional.
  • Holistic well-being. Feeling cared for by ensuring holistic well-being offerings are used, not just available.
  • Shared purpose. Feeling invested in the organization by taking concrete action on purpose, not just through corporate statements.

Growing Awareness of Pay Inequities
Years ago, employees were discouraged from discussing how much they earned with their fellow workers. However, younger generations are demanding greater transparency and are focused on pinpointing inequities in pay. Laws are also being enforced to make salaries more transparent for anyone who wants access to the information. When employees feel they have been mistreated in terms of pay, it directly impacts morale and productivity.

  • Fifteen percent decrease in employees who plan to stay
  • Job search activity increases by 13 percent
  • Employee engagement decreases by 13 percent

While fair compensation is directly related to employee satisfaction, additional factors determine how workers feel about their jobs. People want their contributions to be acknowledged and to feel “valued, trusted, empowered, and respected. Equally important, they want to be accepted for who they are without conforming to someone else’s opinions of who they should be.

Seeking Purpose in Life and Work
It’s estimated that people will spend 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime. So, it’s natural to view work as a subset of life, not a separate entity. People analyze their choices more deeply when faced with consistent economic and political instability. Where and how they spend time has become an urgent concern reflecting their values and happiness. Whereas Baby Boomers held fast and “toughed it out,” hoping that the unpleasant things about their jobs would eventually improve—not so with younger workers. Providing services solely in exchange for compensation is something many people no longer want to accept.

Respond with a Human-centric Approach
Where do employers go from here? Gartner’s research suggests companies take a human-centric approach that incorporates norms that reflect the new reality of the employee/employer relationship. The goal is sustainable performance while helping employees maintain physical and emotional health. Rather than focusing on outcomes, the research suggests that organizations alter the current dynamic by practicing more empathy. This change can begin by mandating proactive rest.

  • Mandatory paid time off (PTO) before busy work periods
  • Cancelling meetings on Fridays
  • Allocating wellness time and goals for PTO

Changing the existing culture typically takes time. However, if leaders and employees adopt the new behaviors, change occurs more rapidly. The objective is to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and recognized as a contributor.