Employees who don’t feel valued don’t stay. When the American Psychological Association studied the workplace back in 2012, half of respondents who said they did not feel valued at work also said they were actively looking for a different job.
Conversely, 93 percent of those who felt valued said they were motivated to deliver their best work with high productivity.
Therefore, the employee value proposition goes beyond feelings. It’s about the bottom line. Leaders who want to ensure corporate success will communicate and implement strategic initiatives that show that they value their employees.
How to make employees feel valued when you’re the leader in your organization
The workplace is changing. The old pyramid model positioned power, information, and decisions all at the top. Today, “we are in a relationship economy,” writes Marcel Schwantes for Inc. Schwantes is Founder and Chief Human Officer for Leadership From the Core, and he sees democracy and freedom as the new normal, necessitating a shift in leadership philosophy and organizational culture.
The relationship economy drives how businesses engage with customers but also with employees. The first action a leader can take is get to know employees and what matters to them. Show genuine curiosity about their work and them as an individual. Ask questions you sincerely want the answers to. The rest will flow from the relationship you are nurturing.
4 tips for how to make employees feel valued
Four words capture meaningful ways that employees desire their leaders to express appreciation and value: trust, respect, growth, and compensation.
Schwantes cites rankings of Best Companies to Work For that say highly rated employers all have leaders who exhibit trust behaviors toward staff. They keep communication channels open, freely share their vision for the future, and constantly listen and respond to what they learn.
Response is important. Jacob Morgan, author and futurist, in his Inc. article, says companies generally follow one of four patterns in how they approach feedback from employees:
- The organization doesn’t ask. Employees are expected to follow procedures and not have opinions.
- The organization asks, but does nothing. Employees see through this as pointless lip service.
- The organization asks and acknowledges. The person offering insight at least gets a thank you — but nothing changes.
- The organization asks, acknowledges, and acts. This type of organization communicates that staff is valued.
Leaders, whose employees feel valued, have created a culture that seeks their participation in meaningful strategy setting and decision making.
Listening communicates respect, as does establishing more collaborative processes. Of course, it needs to be made crystal clear that disrespect of any kind is intolerable in your organization, with the top setting the example. As a leader, it’s your job to ensure a safe work environment emotionally, as well as physically.
Recognition is an outward expression of respect. With a focus on process and technology, acknowledging accomplishments and talent is one way to humanize your workplace. Methods of recognition for excellent work run the gamut from a simple sincere thank you to public applause and performance bonuses.
Focusing on strengths powerfully communicates value. Then, when the need for improvement is communicated, the note comes across as helpful rather than as criticism.
Money can be a symbol of estimation of worth. It’s hard to feel valued if your pay and benefits are not on par with industry standards and personal needs.
When it comes to benefits, consider offering alternatives that are meaningful to diverse demographics. For instance, while it’s never too early to start a 401(k), contributions to a 529 college savings account or Health Savings Account may be perceived as more valuable for some employees. Likewise, family leave and flexible work schedules are meaningful to parents or persons caring for elders.
Opportunities for professional growth and advancement help employees reach their personal goals and show that management believes in them. The APA study found that less potential for professional development led to less job satisfaction. Consider, too, that assignments to projects that allow employees to stretch or that carry increasing levels of responsibility allow team members to grow and demonstrate belief in their capabilities.
Are you looking to create or enhance a relationship-based employment culture?
Let us help you find leaders you can trust who will help you make all your employees feel valued. Reach out to our recruiters today to begin the search.