6 Ways to Help Employees Feel Valued

Nurturing employees’ sense of value is important for running a successful business, especially in 2021. With the ongoing shift to remote work, professional responsibilities are just a click away. The proliferation of job networking platforms is introducing professionals to dozens of new opportunities on a daily basis. Because of this, your employees are likely assessing how they feel about their current roles and keeping an eye open for greener pastures.

As a result, it is critical to ensure that employees feel valued in order to guarantee their commitment to your company. An American Psychological Association study found that 93 percent of professionals were more likely to perform their very best if they felt valued by their employer, versus a mere 33 percent who were motivated to do their best for their own intrinsic reasons. The same study also found that employees who felt valued were also much more likely to recommend their company to a friend and were far less likely to seek new employment opportunities.

Clearly, nurturing your employees’ sense of value should be a top priority for your company. If you are looking for ways to set this initiative in motion within your organization, consider the following six ideas for how to make employees feel valued.

Create Innovative Compensation Packages

There is no denying that salary and wages are correlated to employee value. Simply put, if you pay an employee more, he or she will feel better about their job. This explains why, after a challenging year in 2020 due to the pandemic, most U.S. companies are doing everything in their power to reinstate bonuses and implement raises. Studies show the average salary likely will increase by 2.8 percent in 2021.

However, the modern professional is motivated by far more than money. The traditional nine-to-five office environment is quickly fading, and so are the traditional ways in which professionals live, love, relax, and consume. This creates the opportunity for companies to create unique benefits packages that will appeal to a contemporary workforce. While staples such as health insurance and retirement contributions are still important, Perkbox found that 66 percent of modern employees view customized benefits as a personal investment that would increase their loyalty to the company. Some innovative benefits ideas that are sure to help employees feel recognized and valued include:

  • Flexible schedules and leave policies
  • Paid childcare
  • Gym memberships, counseling sessions, and other perks to help improve employee well-being
  • Subscriptions to popular online services and entertainment platforms

Modernize the Workspace

By investing in top-notch facilities, you are telling employees that they are worthy of working in the best environment possible. Forbes magazine reports that 87 percent of professionals would like their employers to offer healthier workplace benefits. Some effective ways to do this include offering on-site workout and meditation spaces. You can also provide open and inviting work areas that optimize the benefits of natural sunlight. Living walls that incorporate elements of nature and sustainability into the work environment are good as well.

Keep Remote Workers Engaged

While there are many benefits to remote work, there’s one drawback. Remote workers have a tendency to feel isolated from their peers. Studies show that some 20 percent of employees feel isolated when working from home, which can cause them to experience marginal feelings of value about their role within the company.

Therefore, it is critical to find ways to keep your remote workers engaged. Frequently build company- or department-wide video calls into the work schedule. This reminds remote professionals that they are an important part of the team. Make use of the power of social media, as millennials are increasingly motivated by social media recognition. Studies reveal that 82 percent of modern professionals feel that social media has the ability to improve their work relationships, making it simple to strengthen commitment to the company through a quick post, like, or comment.

Provide a Foundation for Growth

Professionals will question their value to the company if they feel trapped in a dead-end job. Yet, 68 percent of employees feel like their company doesn’t care about their career advancement. Therefore, provide the framework for employees to learn new skills and communicate how these skills are valuable to the industry. Discuss roles within the organization that you could see them attaining in the future. Encourage them to attend networking events where they can establish meaningful connections to advance their careers.

Challenge Employees

It may seem like people shy away from work that is too hard, but employees are actually happier in roles that they perceive as challenging. Some creative ways to challenge employees include:

  • Implement job rotations, where employees are working on new projects with regularity.
  • Include employees when creating job descriptions, and make them feel like a part of the hiring process for similar or subordinate jobs.
  • Offer incentives for professionals who are able to attain specific goals.

Don’t Shy Away From Critical Feedback

Although it is intuitive to think that critical feedback may be perceived negatively by employees, Harvard Business Review actually found that 57 percent of professionals preferred corrective feedback over praise. Employees want to see that you care about their improvement and advancement within a role. Taking the time to offer constructive feedback on their performance demonstrates that you view them as valuable assets.

The Best Ways to Help Employees Feel Valued

Employees are more likely to give their best efforts and less likely to defect when they feel valued by their employer. Both are relevant factors to a company’s bottom line. By intentionally implementing the six aforementioned ideas, you can take significant steps toward helping your employees feel valued.

Photo: Kevin Bhagat

Remote Work During Coronavirus: Leadership Matters

Bottom line: employees, last I looked, are people. And we need to protect and support our people during this incredibly tough time. We’re all facing phenomenal degrees of uncertainty as we navigate uncharted and scary territory. We don’t know how bad it will be, how long it will last, or what it will take from us. Anxiety is as common as oxygen right now, and peace of mind as hard to come by as n95 masks. But as you shift your workforce to remote, here’s one small consolation to think about. This is the future of work.

I’m not talking about the pandemic. I’m talking about being able to rely on the power of your work culture and the agility of technology to flex to a different reality. For all of us, the challenge is maintaining continuity without disruption or stoppages, but that’s more complicated than just a punch list of to-dos. There are many companies already doing this, and my own firm has been proudly and very successfully remote for years. So here’s some simple advice. It’s not about technology, but about culture, behavior and human nature:

Exceptional Times Call for Exceptional Tact

Empathy is a word bandied about a lot these days. Now, right now, we’re in a global crisis in which understanding that we are part of a larger social community and being able to imagine being in each other’s shoes may literally improve our chances for survival. 

Your employees are going through incredible stress right now: suddenly facing the prospect of children out of school; trying to figure out how to keep their elderly parents safe; coping with empty supermarket shelves and worse. This is not the best time to take someone to task for being three minutes late to a meeting. 

The More Distance, The More Training

Taking the leap into a digital workspace should not be done alone: whatever your platform, lean on the provider to give your employees all the training they need to feel comfortable. Particularly if your workforce is going to be scattered far and wide, they’re going to need to all be up to speed — and dismal adoption rates on new technologies can often be traced to one simple factor: fear. 

People are facing enough of that, so give them everything they need to comfortably make the switch. And that means tailoring coaching so that even the most technologically insecure member of any team is confident enough to participate. Remote workforces depend on everyone being able to access, communicate and use the technology equally. But that means some need a lot more guidance and help than others. They should never feel penalized for it. Don’t expect everyone to take a single tutorial and know how to navigate. 

Solicit Feedback on Your Work Culture (and Take it to Heart)

Your remote workforce may not have agreed with your assessment of the workplace culture when they were in the same building, but being physically near each other and within a shared workspace often makes up for flaws in the culture. Not so when your workforce is remote. After everyone heads home to work, and as everyone starts using the remote platform that’s bringing them together, conduct some clear and honest surveys to get their feedback on what’s lacking in your work culture. Ask people for their opinions and concerns and give them the time, space and ears they deserve and need to speak up. Listen carefully, and listen well. You need that feedback to find the weak spots — and there won’t be a single organization that doesn’t have them. 

What I have found is that if you don’t bring these issues out into the open, they will fester and compound in the remote environment. But if you solicit employee feedback and then don’t take action on that feedback, you’ll make it worse. Start by reporting the results of your surveys and questions back to your people — and turn it into a clear and shared effort to make things better for all. Be transparent, and be proactive. Both of those traits are even more critical in a remote workplace culture.

Find Your Ambassadors

There are going to be people in your organization that truly care about the success of going remote. These are not brand ambassadors, they’re process ambassadors — those who want to make sure this transition is effective and successful. Good! Instead of assuming their reasons as self-centered, or questioning their motivation, don’t. It may be to their benefit (right now, of course it is) to get their teams and colleagues working smoothly via the remote platform. But that also means you’re aligned in that goal, if not for exactly the same reasons. That’s fine. Alignment is a matter of coming together around shared interests, and finding common ground.

Instead of second-guessing why someone is a team player, actively, clearly acknowledge your appreciation. You need more eyes and ears in a remote organization, as it’s too easy to let communication slide — and there is literally less visibility. Your ambassadors will not only champion the cause and inspire others to make the effort, they can also relay when someone’s having an issue, or has a concern — and make sure you’re aware of it. Why? Because they care. Accept it.

Don’t be a Stranger

Remote leadership is a contradiction in one sense: leaders need to be clearly involved, engaged, and accessible to their people. Don’t be a stranger. Be there more than you think you need to be there, and never appear to be disinterested or busy in meetings. And be present for everyone, whether that means you reach out to everyone in a quick video chat, a daily message and a question all can respond to, a virtual roundtable Q&A, or simply providing your email. Your people need to hear your voice, read your texts, and see your face.

The bigger the organization, the harder this can be to carry out. But take advantage of your tech and communications platforms to make it happen — you knew I wasn’t going to fully ignore how important technology is, didn’t you? Use video, use chats, use virtual conferencing, texts, intranet, messaging, IMs — whatever you already have present in the day-to-day functions of your workplace, optimize them now. I’d work with your teams — not only in HR but in marketing as well — to craft a plan for your presence. Reach out to your managers about what they need from you and when. The same way you consider frequency when it comes to recognition (short, sweet and often is far more effective than rare and overlong), create a cadence of messages and outreach. Stay in your employee’s daily routines. This will matter more than you realize. 

The Last Thing

The last thing you want your remote workforce to have to go through is feeling like they have left the office and that’s the end of their connection to the company. For so many in the workforce on all levels, the rug is being pulled out from under us. But If you approach remote leadership with a real commitment to staying human and staying present, this is just the beginning. And when this is all over, and it will be, your whole organization will be in a far better position to meet the future of work head on.