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Labor: Employees crave meaningful work

The Employee Experience Index report, from the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and Workhuman, finds that meaningful work, which fully utilizes an employee’s talents and skills and is aligned with the company’s core values, leads to a 50 percentage-point increase in employee experience.

When employees receive recognition for their performance, 83 percent report a positive experience in the workplace, versus 38 percent who do not receive recognition. And 80 percent of those receiving feedback feel positive about their experience, compared to 41 percent who do not.

Of workers who feel their suggestions and ideas matter to the company, 83 percent report a positive employee experience, versus just 34 percent of those who feel their contributions don’t matter.

Vanessa Hall, managing partner of Performant Scout, LLC, BB #:300377 Phoenix, AZ, says she is increasingly seeing employers send writeups to trade magazines when their employees receive a promotion or honor, as well as bosses highlighting employee accomplishments on personal LinkedIn profiles or other platforms.

While compensation is not as important as experience to most employees, financial or other incentives for reaching certain milestones can add to a feeling of being valued.

“Incentive programs, even if small, are effective,” says Jeff Oliver, owner of Oliver Search Consulting BB #:274674 in Fresno, CA, an executive search company.

These efforts can range from creating a contest for the fewest loss-time injuries, with the winner’s department treated to a special lunch, to formal employee stock ownership programs, which have been gaining popularity over the past 15 years. Such endeavors can have a profound effect, changing an employee’s mindset and the corporate culture, Oliver says.

Some family-owned companies treat employees like part of the family.

“If your spouse is sick, they tell you to take whatever time you need,” Oliver says. “You almost become a trusted family advisor, even if you’re the irrigation supervisor—that’s special.” Hosting events for employees and partners or family members can also be effective.

Communication and engagement
One of the keys to feeling valued is communication, according to Nathan Stornetta, director of client relations and executive recruiter at Produce Careers, Inc., BB #:164340 with locations in Arroyo Grande, CA, and Carmel, IN.

Company management teams with a cohesive, transparent communication process in place—so employees feel like they’re not being blindsided by changes—can be a big boost to corporate culture and synergy.

Employee engagement is also critical.

As of January 2020, well over half (59 percent) of the world’s workforce considers themselves as disengaged at work, according to the Employee Expectations Report—and this has an impact on the bottom line—a 2017 Harvard report found employee disengagement costs companies up to $550 billion a year worldwide, in part due to high turnover.

Highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their companies, according to research by the Corporate Leadership Council, which is significant because one of the top reasons for leaving a job is spending too much time on mundane tasks rather than work better suited to an employee’s skill set, according to an International Data Corporation survey.

This is a multi-part feature adapted from a story in the September/October issue of Produce Blueprints magazine.