Having a happy, healthy, engaged workforce goes far beyond providing free food, gym memberships and a ping-pong table. While those perks are sure to be appreciated by employees, they don’t do much in the way of motivating or retaining them. What it really comes down to is the employee-employer relationship.
New data released earlier this year by Virgin Pulse revealed exactly what employees need to love their job -- and a large part of that is a good relationship with their employer. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the more than 1,000 full-time employees surveyed said their relationship with their employer positively impacts their focus or productivity at work, and 44 percent said it positively impacts their stress levels.
Considering nearly 50 percent of the 7,200 adults surveyed in a recent Gallup study left a job “to get away from their manager,” it’s time to reevaluate the employee-employer relationship.
Here is what makes for a good relationship between employers and their employees.
1. Open communication.
The key to any good relationship is communication that goes both ways. Unfortunately, employees don’t feel like their bosses are really listening. A recent survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees by 15Five showed a mere 15 percent of employees are satisfied with the quality of workplace communication.
What’s more, that same study found that 81 percent of employees would rather join a company that values “open communication” than one that offers great perks.
To create a work environment that supports open communication, consider implementing a web-based feedback platform. According to the survey by 15Five, 70 percent of employees said they’d be more likely to share information with managers if they could enter comments into an online feedback system.
Related: How to Get Employees to Stick Around
2. Guidance and support.
A leader can’t lead without providing direction. To build a stronger relationship with employees, employers must provide them with the necessary guidance and support to achieve their work goals. Employers need to have an idea of what those goals are to do that.
Yet, the aforementioned Gallup study showed that only 12 percent of employees “strongly agree” that their manager helps them set work priorities, and only 13 percent agree that their manager helps them set performance goals.
Give employees the help they need. Meet with them regularly to discuss their goals for the quarter and set priorities. This will better align them with the goals of the company.
3. Opportunities and investments.
Ideally, both parties bring something to, and get something out of, the relationship. For employers, the benefits of a good employee-employer relationship include a workforce that is highly engaged, productive and satisfied in their role within the organization. An effective and efficient workforce is good for business.
For employees, the advantages of the relationship should go beyond the paycheck and benefits package to include individualized training.
Send employees to professional development events or invite leaders within the industry to speak during a monthly lunch-and-learn. Just be sure to provide them with opportunities to grow and improve. After all, investing in employees ensures they’ll invest in the company.
4. Gratitude and appreciation.
It’s in our nature to want to be praised for a job well done -- a result of receiving “gold stars” during our schoolyard days, no doubt. It reassures, motivates and gives us the fuel we need to continue doing what we do well.
In fact, Globoforce and SHRM’s 2015 Employee Recognition Report showed 86 percent of the 823 HR professionals surveyed said values-based recognition increased employee happiness at work, so don’t hold back on the “thank you” notes and pats. Employees will appreciate the recognition, and the employee-employer relationship will get a much-needed boost.
5. Interest in life outside of work.
The employee-employer relationship should be professional, but that doesn’t mean employers shouldn’t take the time to get to know the person behind the work. Strive to treat employees as people, not just worker bees. The key is to take an interest in employees’ lives outside of work.
What are employees’ personal and professional goals? Where do they hope to be in five years? Do they have a family? What do they like to do once the workday is over?
Questions like these help employers to know their employees on a more personal level. That helps them make sense of individual employee actions and preferences, and forms a much stronger bond between employers and their employees.