Learning & Development, Talent

What Do Workers Really Want? New Survey Explains

A high-performing workforce is essential for any business to be successful. And while most companies strive to keep employees engaged and productive, it’s difficult to know which workplace factors will make a positive and sustainable impact. In order to attract candidates and motivate current employees, companies first need to know: What do workers want?

workers

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Aerotek recently released a report presenting the findings of a 2019 survey of more than 1,200 workers across industries and skill sets, revealing how workers prioritize the drivers that influence their workplace satisfaction.

The top seven factors by importance are also those with the largest variance between what employees want and how often they experience what they want. The factors with the largest gaps can provide direction for employers that want to know what changes can have the most impact.

Where Are the Biggest Gaps?

Importance Rank Performance Rank Gap
Business practices in line with my values 1 12 -11
Opportunities for growth and advancement 2 22 -20
Your ideas are taken seriously 3 16 -13
Recognition for your work 4 14 -10
Manager(s) cares about your career 5 21 -16
Transparent communication about job and company 6 19 -13
Compensation in line with expectations 7 18 -11

Within the survey results, one of the factors with the largest gaps—”business practices are in line with my values”—indicates that employees are taking a broader view of their employer, as well as their position as part of the workforce at large.

Awareness of companies as corporate citizens that embody the values of individual employees is increasing. Employees may feel more invested in a company that aligns with their principles, such as respect, openness, and cooperation.

A company known for having a great culture has a hiring advantage. Investing in amenities that benefit employees, such as a gym, a day care, or even work-from-home opportunities, can show that the company cares about the health and well-being of its employees.

Opportunities for Growth and Advancement

Survey respondents also prioritized opportunities for advancement as a satisfaction driver while saying that they don’t often experience it.

To make this happen, employers should ensure they’re being clear and open about what it takes to move up in the organization. Be specific about what an employee has to do to earn a promotion—how hard he or she will have to work and for how long. This doesn’t mean employees can’t advance more quickly—they just need to be aware of job role expectations and how to outperform them.

Not all career paths are linear. Sometimes, career paths are ladders, but sometimes, they’re more like a jungle gym. Managers should ensure employees know their strengths and what development opportunities will best align with their career goals.

At times, the best fit might not be in the same area or department, so see what can be done to increase visibility into other areas of the organization. Job shadowing can be a good tool to help employees develop a more well-rounded understanding of how the company operates and learn more about different paths they can take to reach their goals.

The common thread among these findings is that employees are serious about their careers—they want to learn more, be listened to, and progress through their career path.

Recognition for Your Work

Employees are increasingly interested in knowing that their efforts help the company achieve its goals, according to the survey. Employers should provide this information.

In the spirit of openness and good communication, every company should be providing information that shows employees how each unit, department, team, and individual contributes. Companies can reinforce this through the performance assessment process, providing cascading goals so that there is a clear chain of responsibility up and down the organization that shows how interdependent the roles are.

Employees can then see a direct correlation between what they do and how it impacts the company. Ensure that you have metrics in place to assess how well each objective is being met so that you can measure and adjust as you go.

Manager(s) Cares about Your Career

Managers today wear a lot of hats, but they need to prioritize personal attention to their employees. If they don’t focus on their people, have candid two-way conversations, and develop them within the organization, they’ll leave.

Compensation in Line with Expectations

Workers today are more aware than ever about what jobs should be paying, are more reluctant to compromise on their expectations, and are more willing to advocate for themselves. Companies should take a second look at their compensation strategies, knowing that wage growth is relatively stagnant and that it’s impacting worker satisfaction.

In addition to recognizing your top-performing employees, paying market rate wages can also prevent them from being lured away by competitors that are increasingly targeting passive candidates.

Bottom Line

What’s notable about the factors that motivate employees is that they don’t require extravagant amenities or exorbitant pay. The survey results indicate that workers want to contribute to the goals of their employer, achieve recognition, and stay informed on the company in general and their department or team specifically. It demonstrates that the role of the manager and the value of personal interactions are critical components of employee satisfaction and engagement.

And although there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for employee satisfaction, leaders need to have regular conversations with employees to know what’s working and what’s not in their organization. By striving to achieve an open, cooperative, relationship-oriented culture, employers can provide what workers really want.

Keith MirabileKeith Mirabile is the Executive Director of Strategic Sales at Aerotek. In this role, Keith is responsible for overseeing the strategic initiatives and business development efforts for national accounts across Aerotek’s Financial and Business Services sector.