Before you place that order for more company-logo emblazoned travel coffee mugs, consider this: while your team will certainly smile and thank you for your thoughtful gift, what they really want is something totally different.
Your Team Wants Autonomy
Following someone else's set of rules is hardly ever fun. Unfortunately, companies often build a set of comprehensive rules, often for the sake of equality and organization. Great goals, but the end result could be unhappy employees who just wish they had a little more control over their own work.
When people have more choices, they enjoy their work more, and are better at it. The choices don't have to be monumental ones: simply being able to arrange their desk and workspace, choose when to take their lunch breaks, and choose their own favorite tools can make a huge difference.
Your Team Wants Opportunities
Your people are smart and talented, and they want you to recognize their potential. You probably do that already, with praise and rewards, and that's a great start. But the next step is to start making more and better opportunities available for your team members.
Open up some of the doors. Let your employees take on leadership, handle projects, deal with clients, and make calls that you've always made. If you've been a good leader, they'll know what to do. If they're not quite ready, and they make a mistake, you'll all learn from the experience and move forward more equipped for the future.
Your Team Wants Respect
While no one is going to be angry about a bonus or a salary raise, employees are looking for more than money. They want a workplace that respects individuals and treats people fairly. In fact, a recent survey
shows that employees rank "respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” over compensation.
Respect is one of the most basic ways you can show your team that you value them and what they bring to the business. From the way you address each individual to how you respond to their ideas, you're communicating whether you respect them or not. Communicate respect and treat all your team members as you'd like to be treated, and you'll build a stronger, happier team.
Your Team Wants Flexibility
Life continually changes, and it's difficult to deal for people to deal with the changing circumstances of life when they have no flexibility from their employer. You can give your team more control and more choices: from standard work time, telecommuting options, flex time, work methods, travel arrangements, to project management and communication methods. They'll be happier, more engaged employees when they have more flexibility.
Ask yourself, "Why not?" Trust your people to make good decisions with their freedom and use their flexibility to be more productive, not to slack off. Most people want to contribute and do meaningful work; they're just struggling to do it under predefined rules that don't fit their lifestyle or priorities anymore. So help your people love their jobs and do better work . Flexibility allows them to fit their lives and jobs into one cohesive, enjoyable, and ultimately more productive and fulfilling experience.
If you can give your employees a holiday gift this season, make it one or more of these. Sure, those windbreakers in company colors are neat; but your employees want, and deserve, more from you. Let them know you're interested in their long-term growth and success, not just in holiday trinkets that get lost a month later. You can still hand out the coffee mugs; just hand out some flexibility, autonomy, and plenty of respect while you're at it.
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