I have been in the “working” world for, well, quite some time now. I have worked in several different fields in many different capacities, but one thing has always remained a constant; I want to be paid for my time and effort at work. For years, that was all that I concentrated on..How much do I get paid? How often do I get paid? However, my ideas about a “paycheck” have been slowing evolving so that to me, it really is about more than just the numbers that come after the $ sign. What else can an employer offer me in order to keep me happy? After all, I show up every day on time, do my job to the best of my ability, sometimes stay late, and basically make sure that I do everything I am paid to do, plus some. I realize that some employers think that as long as they pay you every other Friday, you will be one satisfied employee who loves coming in to work, who doesnt need any additional incentives in order to stay on the job. My apologies to anyone that doesnt need anything other than a paycheck to be happy, but a paycheck is only money…sometimes its the other perks that an employer can offer in addition that make it worthwhile to show up for work on time. Here is a list of things that I think can make a difference for an employee, that employers can offer in order to keep their workforce happy.
Flextime – We all have those days where we just need a morning off to take care of some personal business or an afternoon where we just want to go to the beach. And in my opinion, nothing can beat an office that offers flextime to its employees as I believe it can be a very positive experience for an employee to know that he or she is trusted enough to get their work done…on their time. How many of you would love to be able to wake up in the morning and decide, “You know what, I know its Tuesday, but I really dont feel like working today. I will make up for it on Saturday morning instead, because I think its going to be raining anyway.” How great would that be?
Healthcare for your family – Of course, many companies offer health care to their employees, and some even pay for the entire amount. But what do you do if you have a spouse that either doesnt work or doesnt have a job with health care, or if you have children at home? Sometimes you can add them to your own plan, but from experience I know that it can cost a small fortune just to add a spouse. How much would you appreciate having paid health care for your entire family? How much better would you sleep at night? I realize health care is expensive for companies to pay for, but isnt it worth it in the long term to have happy and healthy employees and their families?
Bus and subway passes – Living in Los Angeles, this would not do me much good unless I worked in the same general area that my home is in. The city is just too big to effectively take public transportation to work. In my current situation, a bus ride to work would take about 2 hours and 3 different buses…not something I would really like to do unless I absolutely had to, even if my employer paid for a bus pass. But if you live in “real” cities, such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago or Boston, a bus pass that is paid for by your boss is worth a lot more than just the $75 monthly cost. You would not have to buy as much gasoline, you would not have as much wear and tear on your car, you would be helping to clean the air by not driving and sitting in traffic, and you might just arrive at work a little more relaxed after not having to battle on the freeway…thus resulting in better productivity.
Tuition Reimbursement – If you have a job that you could really use more training for, wouldnt it be great if your boss volunteered to pay for it? Your boss would get an employee with more skills, and you would be bettering yourself for any future employment opportunities. Personally, if my company offered tuition reimbursement, I would be taking any and all classes that were even SLIGHTLY related to my job, as long as someone else was paying for it. This to me is a no-brainer, as better trained employees are more valuable to your company!
Casual Dress – Now, this would not work in every industry..but it could work in most. If you are required to wear dress clothes (suits, uniforms that arent paid for, etc) to work, how much money do you spend on new clothes, the dry cleaner, alterations and mending, etc? It can add up to quite a tidy sum over the course of the year. I am not talking casual as in ripped t-shirts and shorts..just something more casual that could involve clothes that might already be in your closet that you wear out to a nice meal. Casual clothes are more comfortable, which results in happier and more relaxed employees. No, it would not work in a high profile industry, where you meet with clients or have to go to court. But most industries would survive if you could throw on a shirt and khakis instead of a suit and tie.
Free Coffee – An obvious choice. What could it possibly cost a company to provide free coffee to their employees? Not as much as they could be losing by having employees that take coffee breaks down the street a few times a day or by employees that are sleepy by 10am because they forgot to stop at Starbucks on the way in. There is just something so rewarding about knowing that the coffee machine is RIGHT THERE and I can have some whenever I want.
A Simple Thank You – I have had jobs in the past where all I wanted was for someone to acknowledge the fact that I had done a good job…but I never got it. We were never told ANYTHING about our personal performance, we had to beg for raises and promotions, and no one had a clue if they were going to have a job each morning. This is not a way to spend 40+ hours a week, and its certainly not a way for a company to keep its employees happy. A simple thank you, a small bonus, a mention in a company newsletter, an extra day off on your vacation…these are very basic things that can go a long way to improving both the moral and productivity of employees.
How would you encourage your employees if you could? What would make your days at work more worthwhile? It really is quite simple to keep employees happy, its just a shame so few companies are willing to put in the thought to make it happen.
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