What Employees Want: Thinking Outside The Paycheque

Thinking Outside the Paycheque
Thinking Outside the Paycheque

Companies are thinking of new and innovative ways to attract and retain employees. From fun offerings like Friday beers or allowing pets at the office, to incentives to improve work/life balance like flexible work hours, most employers know they need to offer more than just a paycheque.

But what are employees really looking for?

“When we talk to possible candidates, we talk about fit and culture,” said Tracy Arno, CEO of Essence Talent Solutions in Saskatoon. “It’s not about if they can do the job, it’s if they want to do the job.”

Before employers can create a compensation package, they need to make an honest assessment of what their workplace culture is and what their employees want it to be. “It’s really an employee driven culture. Where companies are failing is when the leaders are not getting behind this philosophy,” says Arno. Company leaders also need to understand that compensation packages can include things like flexible hours, educational opportunities or wellness packages.

When employers listen to what their employees are looking for, and provide it, they develop a partnership with transparent communication. “The traditional workplace where its kind of a top-down managed organization is not the ideal workplace any longer,” says Arno.

She also stresses the importance of ongoing feedback and recognition that is immediate, not just part of an annual review process. “Employees want to know how they’re doing; they want to know where they can grow and where they can have impacts within the organization,” says Arno.

To retain employees, companies need to deliver on the expectations they set. When employees feel they are a valued member of the team and are provided the work environment they were promised, they want to stay.

iQmetrix, a technology company with an office in Regina, offers some innovative perks such as company trips, a paid sabbatical after seven years, flexible hours and no cap on sick leave.

“It’s the culture that ultimately attracts and retains employees,” says Alicia Thaver, Director of People & Culture at iQMetrix. “We find that the overall work environment is what has the most impact on recruitment and retention. Employees want meaning in their work and to see the impact that they are having.”

The company also gives employees a sense of ownership in the role they play for the company and their clients. “We have a self-managed work environment where employees are the owners of how they get their work done and have a voice in decision-making … this gives a more direct view to how their decisions affect the company’s success,” she says.

They also recognize the value of ongoing feedback. iQmetrix has moved away from annual reviews to ‘contribution snapshots,’ a summary of the employee’s contributions and growth opportunities. They also have a peer program where employees can send feedback to a colleague or another employee’s lead at any time.

The company’s benefits package was determined by asking employees what they wanted, and the package is reviewed regularly, says Thaver. “One of our principles is around providing employees what they need to be successful at both work and home, so we always review our benefit offerings through this lens.”

So, what can employers do to attract employees? They can certainly continue offering incentives like casual dress codes, social activities and a fridge stocked with pop and juice. But if they don’t provide ongoing feedback and a feeling that employees fit well and are making a difference, those perks wear thin.