It’s impossible to keep customers happy when your employees aren’t happy and productive. Remember, happy workers mean happy customers. Yet, we’re in the middle of a unique period in US history where employees are leaving their jobs in record numbers. Termed the ‘Great Resignation‘, employees are quicking in droves from the US to China. Contributing to this, they feel underappreciated by their employers and, in some cases, employers do everything they can to tell employees they don’t matter to the company. For instance, just last week a truly unenlightened employer went so far as to fire 900 employees during a Zoom meeting. You can bet the satisfaction and productivity of the remaining employees plummeted. The question becomes, how do you keep employees happy and productive to ensure your customers are happy, loyal, and keep coming back. Today, we discuss the top employee benefits that help keep your employees happy and productive.
Factors behind the great resignation
The great resignation let 46 million US workers to resign between April and September of 2021. A number of factors contributed to this including burnout and depression related to the Covid epidemic but a deeper reason is that many workers feel underappreciated by their employers. The financial crunch employers faced after lockdowns and customers who worked from home and feared visiting retailers and service businesses suppressed wages while the general lack of workers meant those still working faced longer hours, more stress, and angry customers. Meanwhile, external factors such as unaffordable child care or lack of child care options forced some workers (primarily women) out of the workforce to take care of their children.
Factors contributing to the great resignation were brewing for a decade or more, according to economists as workers faced stagnating wages amid an increase in the cost of living (especially housing and education) and precarious job security. In some countries, like China, the expectations placed on workers (12 hour days, 6 days a week) were more than the wage offered for the position.
In the US, the great resignation led many firms to increase their de facto minimum wage to $15 or beyond (despite a legally mandated minimum wage of $7.25, which hasn’t changed in over 20 years). That’s a heavy lift for businesses, especially small businesses, still struggling to gain a stable financial footing while the pandemic lingers on. But, all is not lost. Sure, paying a reasonable wage is a great thing for keeping workers happy and encouraging them to stay on the job. We call these hygiene factors, as opposed to motivators, in the prevailing theory of worker motivation, as shown below.
According to this theory, some factors increase motivation for employees to stay in their jobs and be productive. These factors include opportunities for :
- Growth, ie learning
- and, the enjoyment of the work itself
Then you have hygiene factors that discourage job loyalty, high performance, and job satisfaction (even life satisfaction). Among the hygiene factors are:
- Supervision, ie fair supervisors who are good leaders
- Company rules
- Working conditions
- Relationships with co-workers
Thus, having a low salary acts to discourage company loyalty and performance, but fixing the problem of low wages relies on a host of factors that increase job satisfaction such as those listed earlier. That’s why workers in non-profit settings often have high job satisfaction and remain loyal to the company despite the low wages offered these workers. If you’re in a position where you can’t offer a higher wage, you still have a host of tools you can use to encourage workers to stay and remain productive. So, let’s look at the top employee benefits you can use to counter your inability to pay higher wages.
Top employee benefits
As mentioned above, employee benefits are motivators that increase job satisfaction. Here are some of the top employee benefits you might use to increase job satisfaction that results in customer satisfaction.
We discovered during the pandemic that worker satisfaction and productivity climbed. At least part of this productivity surge was due to increased flexibility enjoyed by employees who worked remotely. Flexibility allowed workers to work their own schedule, to a greater extent. This was especially important for workers who needed to take care of children who attended school remotely or smaller children who faced the shutdown of their childcare facility.
Flexibility also allowed employees time to learn new skills or even obtain certifications that helped them perform their tasks better or prepare for new challenges.
What better way to convince employees you value them than to provide wellness benefits that keep them healthy. You have lots of options for instituting wellness initiatives such as bringing in counselors for brown bag lunches or starting a walking group to encourage workers to get more exercise. Some businesses provided devices such as step trackers and smartwatches to track workers’ performance and encourage them to be more active.
If you are in charge of adding an hour of exercise to your working day or creating an exercise program for employees, you can include things like paid HIIT classes or free weight sessions, why wouldn’t you? It’s an awesome perk to offer the people working for you and it means that you prove that their health and wellbeing is a priority for you. Talk about showing you value your employees!
Providing opportunities for employees to improve themselves shows you really care about them plus has the added benefit of making your employees better (more productive, able to offer more services, more knowledgable), which makes customers happy.
You have lots of options when it comes to providing educational opportunities from providing seminars during work hours to paying tuition for classes. You can even offer coaching to employees to help them master the skills needed such as financial management or career planning.
The question always emerges as to whether the firm actually benefits from this education beyond motivating employees and creating job satisfaction, which are great goals in and of themselves. But, unless controlled, some employees will use their education benefits to prepare for better jobs outside your firm. Some firms handle this possibility by restricting the types of education offered to employees or by insisting that classes must relate to the employee’s current responsibilities, which actually involves rules that act as hygiene factors to reduce job satisfaction. Enlightened firms allow employees to take any type of class, even learning skills such as crochet that are unrelated to their work.
A number of firms experimented with shorter workweeks without noticing a sharp decline in productivity while increasing job satisfaction and loyalty. In fact, some firms noticed an increase in productivity as a result of streamlining processes and reducing redundancies.
Employees, especially new employees or those recently taking on new responsibilities, often struggle to succeed at their jobs. This is especially true for workers of color who lack role models to help guide them. That’s where a mentor comes in. Some businesses speed up the transition by appointing proven workers as mentors to help workers acclimate to their jobs and share intangibles like learning the company culture.
Today, we discussed the top employee benefits you can use to motivate employees and improve job satisfaction that translates into customer satisfaction. I hope you found this valuable and I’d love to hear how you use benefits to improve your workplace. Just enter your ideas in the comments below.
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