Every employment comes with a paycheck; it’s the very definition of a job.
But as long as employees are fairly compensated, survey after survey shows that money is not one of the top workplace concerns. Far more impactful in today’s workplace are a number of workplace conditions that could be labeled as quality of life on the job.
Money satisfies, it doesn’t engage employee’s daily behavior. Neuroscience has mapped the brain’s seemingly insatiable thirst for the conditions that, when addressed, allow the brain to thrive — operating much closer to full capacity.
Here are four great places for leaders at every level to focus their efforts.
- Encourage Trusted Relationships
Employees thrive in a work culture that promotes trust and caring for each other, just as early humans learned that survival in a dangerous world was far more likely in clan or tribe than it was in isolation. Today, we spend most of our waking hours at work, and employers that promote a pro-social workplace can reap hardwired metabolic benefits that will outpace pay for performance and other monetary rewards.
- Finding Meaning & Purpose
Work is a fundamental experience of human life. In the past, the security of a job was enough to show up adroitly for work every day. Today, most employees expect and need more than a steady paycheck to encourage and sustain high levels of performance. They want to feel a deeper connection to their work, to their coworkers, or to the mission and vision of the organization. Leaders should support these potential connections at every opportunity.
- Challenging Work
High performers—those upon whom great companies are built—thrive in a workplace ecosystem that includes positive challenge. Leaders need to realize the benefit isn’t simply from the challenge — it is in the recognition and celebration (individual or collective) that comes with the successfully crossing the finish line. The key point here is for leaders to set goals that are within reach, and to recognize the victory before rushing into the next challenge.
- Authority to Innovate & Take Risks
A hierarchical workplace predicated on fear and distrust stifles innovation and focuses employees on daily job survival rather than on performance excellence. A workplace grounded in trust and employee empowerment encourages performance excellence. This includes the ability to take risks and make mistakes without the fear of a punitive response. Innovation and risk-taking may not motivate every employee, but the sense that management respects and has confidence in employees supports a healthier culture where high performers love to stretch and challenge themselves.
Support any or all of these workplace conditions and leaders will give employees more reasons to feel wanted, trusted, and supported.
- Discuss your company’s purpose with employees to give them additional context for why their roles are important.
- Clarify to employees their individual contributions to the mission.
- Offer guidance to employees about the value of the organization’s products or services for customers and clients.
- Create a work culture that promotes trust and teamwork among employees.
Invest authority in employees to take risks and allow them to fail.