You are currently viewing To be truly engaged, employees need more than a paycheck

To be truly engaged, employees need more than a paycheck

Employers have long been told that, to create and maintain an engaged workforce, they’ve got to do more than pay competitively. At least one recent survey supports the notion, if only by a percentage point.

In November 2023, online job-postings provider Monster conducted a poll exploring the workplace trend of why employees decide to give their two weeks’ notice and quit. The number one reason was feeling underappreciated, cited by 50% of respondents. But as alluded to above, compensation came in a close second — 49% of respondents said their salaries were too low.

What can your organization do to keep employees engaged — or boost engagement if it’s lagging? There are plenty of ways to do so. The tough part is figuring out which engagement measures will bring about the best results for you.

Money still matters

Although engagement isn’t solely determined by compensation, it’s the easiest place to start. After all, you’re dealing with numerical amounts quite amenable to analysis. By conducting a benchmarking study, for example, you can figure out exactly what salary ranges or wage amounts are typical for your industry and area — and how your organization compares to the norm.

From there, you may be able to make adjustments to ensure your employees, or key employees, are compensated more competitively. Doing so is easier said than done, however, if your organization is operating under financial constraints. In such a case, you might need to consider looking for outside investors or perhaps even reducing your workforce to raise compensation levels.

Also bear in mind that compensation goes beyond base pay. To further help employees feel like they’re truly well paid, choose carefully from the wide array of fringe benefits available. Ideally, you want to curate a package that suits the demographics and values of your workforce.

Top-down approach

Now let’s discuss the more challenging aspect of engagement. As indicated by the Monster survey, employees largely want to feel appreciated for their work. And this is where employers can struggle to find a balance between going so far overboard with praise and recognition that it loses meaning and doing so little that employees feel taken for granted.

Solving the riddle starts at the top. Ownership and management should mindfully and regularly acknowledge in communications that employees are the organization’s most valuable resource. But don’t just talk the talk. Show employees that they’re appreciated by providing:

  • Ongoing education, training and upskilling,
  • Proper equipment and up-to-date technology,
  • Flexible scheduling to allow for a healthy work-life balance, and
  • A clear path forward with the organization.

Supervisors also play a critical role. In one way or another, it’s been said that “people leave bosses, not employers.” Be sure to continuously train and manage the performance of those in charge of your teams so they know how to communicate with and support workers.

Some supervisors may turn to micromanaging to show employees that they’re paying attention. But workers tend to feel more appreciated when they’re given the autonomy to make decisions and perform in a productive manner of their own choosing. They want to be appreciated for their work, not told precisely how to do it.

Address the issue

Naturally, there are obvious ways to appreciate employees — solicit their feedback on strategic decisions, offer financial incentives, throw parties, give awards — but it’s important to choose the approaches that suit your budget and culture. The most important thing to do is view engagement as something that needs to be continuously nurtured. Contact us for help identifying cost-effective ways of addressing the issue.

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