Sep 27, 2007

What Do Employees Really Want?

A recent study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reveals that what keeps employees satisfied with their jobs aren't the things HR professionals think keep employees satisfied. According to the survey, the top contributors to employee job satisfaction are "benefits" and "compensation/pay." HR professionals ranked "relationship with immediate supervisor" as number one, "compensation/pay" as number two, and "benefits" as number four.

That employees value compensation and pay isn't surprising, but the importance of benefits may be. In addition to the rising cost of health care, aging employees may be worrying about funding their retirement. At the other extreme, Gen Yers may be focused on balancing their work and personal lives. The SHRM survey found an increase in all types of benefits, including health care benefits (programs such as chiropractic insurance, prenatal programs, and smoking cessation programs), retirement benefits (including investment advice), flexible working benefits (like compressed workweeks, eldercare referral services, and company-supported childcare centers), and time off (for personal days, paid adoption leave, or a time bank of sick leave).

Addressing these concerns may seem like a headache, but there's another way to approach it: it's a chance to offer new and different benefits that are guaranteed to be appreciated by a diverse workforce. And many of these benefits are mutual--for example, allowing an employee to telecommute may increase productivity, while offering preventative health care programs can help reduce health care costs and lost work time. At the same time, you're satisfying talented employees who are expensive to replace.

Alayna Schroeder