10 things employees value (aside from money)
Employers who may be under a lot of financial pressure just aren’t in a position to offer candidates attractive salaries, or give staff pay rises.

But for most employees, there are many more rewards than just the money. Workplaces can provide employees some things that money just can’t buy, like a sense of purpose, empowerment and belonging.

Here we look at 10 things that will entice employees to join your organisation, or motivate them to stay, that don’t rely on a budget.

First, ask staff what they value

“We have so many really universal human drivers, and money is not the top of the tree for a lot of us,” says Sabina Read, SEEK’s Resident Psychologist.

“We all have some universal human needs around respect, purpose, validation and belonging, but individuals will value some of those things more than others.”

Check in with your workforce to find out what really matters to each of them, Read says.

Your company values matter, too­­

Whatever you offer your employees needs to be consistent with your company values, Read says.

“If you want to create a culture of wellbeing, it needs to be embedded in every part of your organisation.”

For instance, talking about wellbeing while pushing employees to work long hours is a contradiction in values.

10 factors that make employees want to stay

These are the 10 factors that help employees feel motivated and engaged at work, according to behavioural science research.

  1. Purpose 
    We all want to know how our work impacts others in a positive, meaningful way that goes beyond economic value, Read says.

    “Even if it’s knowing that the widget you’ve designed is making someone’s life easier.”

    Organisations can share those success stories of staff within the organisation.

    “And doing that is free – it doesn't cost the organisation anything.”
  2. Flexibility 
    “We're seeing across the board – post-COVID-19 – that flexibility can be applied, and productivity outcomes can still be met.

    “Workers want flexibility because we all have a desire for a sense of autonomy in our lives. You shouldn't have to have children to request flexibility.

    “Flexibility isn’t just about working from home, but how we work and who does the work.”
  3. Wellbeing 
    “For some employees, wellbeing will be physical, mental, emotional or relational – it's worth asking them,” says Read.

    By checking in with employees, you’ll be able to offer something that’s valued, she says.

    “For instance, there's no point in offering fitness classes in an organisation that really wants some more connectedness between their people.”
  4. Equality 
    No one should be valued less than others, Read says. “You do that by living and breathing that sense of value and equality across your teams.”

    “For instance, HR is as important as finance, senior people bring something of value as do junior people, part-timers are valued just like full-timers are valued.
  5. Empowerment 
    “Empowerment is the sense of wanting to be in charge of our own output and process as much as we can within the cultural norms and expectations of an organisation.

    “If employers and managers really gave more weight to autonomy, I think they would find that a lot of workers would deliver in spades.”
  6. Learning 
    “A lot of us are really hardwired to learn, grow and to challenge ourselves,” Read says.

    Learning opportunities don’t necessarily need to be big-ticket items.

    “I remember working for an organisation that said: ‘we'll pay for you to learn something that's unrelated to your job’. I felt the greatest sense of appreciation and being seen as an individual, not a cog in a wheel, because I could choose what I wanted to learn.

    “The value and enjoyment that I felt counted volumes compared to a pay cheque.”
  7. Democracy 
    “Everyone's voice should be valid. That's really important to all of us,” Read says.

    “We don't want to feel like only the voices at the top of the hierarchy matter, otherwise, what am I doing here?”
  8. Choice 
    The freedom to determine what you work on, and how you do it. “Having a sense of autonomy about how and when we do it is really important to us.”
  9. Challenge 
    “We all want to learn and grow and stretch ourselves,” Read says.

    There are ways to help employees cultivate this. For example, a team abseiling day that physically challenges employees can give them the confidence to try something new in their role.
  10. Belonging 
    “We need to feel like we belong, that people want us there, and that they’re part of a greater goal and purpose,” Read says.

    “Relationships are important. When employees talk about reasons for leaving a job, it is often around relationships, whether it's a tricky boss or a difficult scenario with a colleague.”

How does your organisation rate?

If you think your company performs well on these factors, enter the AFR Boss Best Places to Work competition and show how you’ve pioneered new ways of working.

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