Few corporate awards are as highly sought-after as a prestigious ‘Best Place to Work’ title. And that’s because there are substantial benefits to it.

Research confirms that companies that consistently win such awards are also those that experience significant growth and success. A company that values employee engagement understands the mantra ‘happy employees equal happy customers’.

Simply Business chief executive Jason Stockwood said: “You can’t force people who hate their environment to do a good job. Customers only come first if our employees are happy and doing a good job.” – LinkedIn

Among the variety of Best Place to Work award programs, the most well-respected are held by the likes of Forbes, Inc., The Sunday Times, Business Insider and Glassdoor. The better you understand what elements make a great workplace, the better you’ll be able to make your company a great place to work.

In most cases, the upper management falls into the trap of thinking that bigger paychecks equal employee satisfaction. But employees seek more than just financial reward. In fact, they also list interesting work, recognition and ‘being in on things’ as the most valued aspects of their work.

Here’s what keeps employees motivated, inspired and producing extraordinary results;

Great pay

Let’s be honest. We all go to work to earn money. Multiple surveys have revealed that the number 1 thing employees look for in a job is a good salary. And why shouldn’t they? We all want to be paid our worth. Employers that can afford to pay should pay the best and the brightest to stay on their staff – whether it’s in the form of a salary increment or performance-based bonuses.

Recognition

Employees value recognition and appreciation for a job well done just as much as other benefits. Recognition is an important criterion of all major ‘best place to work’ awards programs.

According to Glassdoor, the average workplace scores just 39% in the area of employee recognition, compared to an average of 75% among the best places to work.

Redactive Media’s Great Workplaces 2016 publication drives the point home; the number one reason most people quit their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.

On the other hand, organizations that had employee recognition programs in place had a 31% lower voluntary turnover than those with ineffective or no recognition programs.

Work-life balance

According to this survey, employees rated work-life balance as one of the most important factors when it comes to deciding whether to leave their current job and take a new one. Employees that are burned out rarely produce the results that companies thrive on.

There are only so many hours in a day. The more time an employer requires, the less time [and energy] an employee has available to pursue his interests and hobbies or spend time with family and friends.

At the very least employers should enable – or at least not prevent – employees from having full lives outside of the workplace. And it doesn’t cost much to do so. In most cases, offering telecommuting options and flex timings can do the trick.

A sense of purpose

A job you love also provides a sense of purpose and meaning. While millennials enjoy a good paycheck, 50% are happy to take a pay cut for work that matches their own values. Employees, mostly born after 1982, want to work for companies that are socially responsible and want to have an impact on society.

This includes contributing to the greater good, investing in social causes and being transparent.

According to Gallup, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. Here’s a detailed article that highlights the difference in performance of companies with engaged employees and those with an unengaged workforce.

Happier employees are 59% less likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, unlike employees who aren’t satisfied with their jobs. This keeps you from having to replace employees you’ve spent your time and resources in – and we all know how expensive that is.

Here’s what some of the top companies are doing to keep their employees engaged and motivated;

Netflix

The company offers a year of paid maternity and paternity leave to new parents. Netflix also allows parents to return either part time or full time and take off days whenever needed throughout the year.

Airbnb

Listed the best place to work in 2016, Airbnb offers its employees an annual stipend of $2,000 to travel and stay anywhere in the world at an Airbnb listing.

Google

If a Google employee dies, the technology giant provides the surviving spouse or partner with 50% of the deceased’s salary for the next 10 years.

Starbucks

Starbucks provides its employees full reimbursement for tuition fees for an online bachelor’s degree from the State University of Arizona.

Bain & Company

The leadership consultancy giant organizes a two-day ‘Bain World Cup’ soccer tournament. It is open to all employees country-wide, and over 1000 employees from its 50 offices turn it into the event of the year.

Twitter

Apart from free meals thrice a day, Twitter also offers on-site acupuncture classes.

Companies like Southwest Airlines, Legal Monkeys, Asana, Screwfix, Dreamworks and many others offer interesting employee perks to increase engagement.

More and more companies are realizing the important connection between the happiness levels of their workforce and overall company output.

Creating a sense of purpose, belonging and happiness, along with support for employee aspirations both inside and outside the workplace are some of the ways to increase engagement.

Don’t think you have the budget to provide such perks? Don’t worry. Your company doesn’t need to have a big budget to increase the motivation level of your employees. Here are some simple tips to help you get started;

Listen

It may seem like a simple thing, but it can go a long way in keeping your employees happy. Provide multiple channels for employees to express their ideas, opinions, and concerns with the leadership. And make sure each comment gets a response.

Have an open door policy

Some companies have an unequivocal open door policy where senior executives sit in cubicles next to their teams to increase day-to-day interaction.

Create a cultural committee

This committee can be tasked with keeping the entire workforce aligned with your company values. From welcoming new employees to directing celebrations for achievements and milestones, these committee members are like your company’s cultural ambassadors who work to increase the spirit of camaraderie.

Small gestures matter

Small gestures go a long way in terms of building a relationship with employees. Several company CEOs have made it a tradition to send handwritten notes to employees on Christmas or Thanksgiving, expressing appreciation for their dedication and hard work. Some CEOs take new employees to lunch to get to know them better from the very start.

Reward and recognize accomplishments

Recognize and then appreciate employee accomplishments and milestones. You’ll find people going the extra mile more often when their efforts are noticed.

Flexibility

Employees who have a degree of flexibility in their schedule, in the way they work and how they execute tasks will always enjoy their work more. Employees who feel trusted are not just more productive and accountable; they are also more committed to their responsibilities.

Again, back to what I said earlier; happy employees equal happy customers, which means bigger profits. The only way to truly humanize your brand is by genuinely investing in your employees. Success stories of companies that are regularly voted the best places to work back this up;

  • Airbnb, Glassdoor’s 2016 Best Place to Work award holder, was valued at $31 billion in 2017 after just 9 years in business.
  • Softcat, another Glassdoor award winner, was able to increase its turnover from £50m to £600m in just a decade.
  • Facebook, Glassdoor’s current #1 best place to work, is valued at $479.4 billion.
  • Simply Business that won The Sunday Times list of the Best Companies to Work for award in 2015 and 2016 has been seeing steady revenue growth. Its revenue increased from £4.2m to £22.9m between 2006 to 2012.

These ideas aren’t just pretty simple to understand and apply; they are crucial in today’s world if you want to drive better financial returns, surpass the competition and become a ‘best place to work’ that attracts and retains top talent.

Now, we’d love to hear your stories! Share the policies you’ve put in place to ensure a very engaged workforce. Did you face certain challenges and roadblocks while implementing these policies? Let us know in the comments below.