A group of people having fun in one room

What employees want. Hint: It’s not a slide

In Recognition and Engagement by Lori McKnight

What Employees Want

Hint: It’s not slides

Earlier in my career I worked for a “dot com” incubator (I am dating myself here). It was the beginning of the new millennium with no shortage of ideas and investment for promising entrepreneurs who understood technology and had a compelling internet-based business model.

At that time perks were used to cultivate creativity and establish yourself as a player in the tech space. As a member of a large (and short-lived) incubator, we had the ping-pong tables, beer fridge, healthy and not-so-healthy snacks, beanbag chairs, massage therapists and weekly kumbaya sessions to stimulate brainstorming and problem-solving.

Fast forward (ahem) a few years and these workplace perks haven’t really changed much. What has changed is the nature of the workplace itself.

While a perks-driven culture can entice millennial talent away from the competition with slides and free lunches, will it keep your talent, stimulate ideas and improve performance?

What employees want

A recent Gallup poll confirmed that while workplace perks may be attractive at first, it’s flexibility and financial rewards that keep employees with you for the long run.

1. Flexibility


According to this study, 51% of employees would change jobs for more flex time and 35% of employees would change jobs to work off-site full time.

Employees love flexibility as it gives them more time to balance work and family, go to the gym, save money on gas and help with childcare.

As more and more companies allow flexible workplaces, it becomes very important for recognition programs to be designed with remote workers in mind and the next generation (Gen Z) who will demand even more digital solutions.

A modern recognition program will also bring much-needed social context to a remote workforce. Virtual workers can feel isolated so peer-to-peer thanks, recognition dashboards and videos can help people feel like they are part of a team and channel your company’s culture.

The key is to design around core values so managers can recognize and reward consistently, reliably and easily, regardless of where employees are located in the world.

2. Financial rewards

Financial rewards

No one will argue that benefits and financial rewards aren’t important drivers of retention. According to Gallup, next to a flexible workplace, monetary bonuses (54%), pensions (51%) and profit-sharing (40%) are top reasons employees would be willing to change jobs.

How to know if the benefits you offer are the ones employees want?
Are you surprised to hear that 51% of employees still want defined benefit pension plans in 2017? Now more than ever it’s important to find out what resonates and serve up a total rewards package based on your employees’ needs and interests. Pulse surveys are great tools to collect insights that inform changes and tweak your plans.

If you can’t offer the benefits employees want for one reason or another, we’ve found employees:

  • Find experiences most motivating;
  • Appreciate using points for Charitable donations, we call it Global Sharing;
  • Prefer to spend on others than on themselves;
  • Want time off

How to reward employees you only see a couple times a quarter (or even year)?
Managing virtual teams can be challenging so offering points for performance and incentive tools help leaders to set goals, track results and motivate remote teams.

Take call centers as an example. Many have large numbers of remote agents. A digital recognition and reward platform can incentivize and ensure service quality. Managers can set weekly call response and customer service goals with points awarded when goals are achieved. These points can be redeemed for:

  • Rewards such as clothing or small merchandise that can be shipped inexpensively;
  • Flexibility – eCertificates that can be redeemed for an extra break or to leave work early. Providing an eCertificate for time off addresses both financial rewards and flexibility, the key motivators in today’s workforce.

Before you install that cool looking slide in the company foyer, give serious thought to what will really keep your top employees with you. Chances are it’s not the slide. Modern recognition program tools including social newsfeeds, pulse surveys, and time-off eCertificates will help you keep your talent, stimulate ideas and improve performance.

CSI STARS helps you create a workforce that loves coming to work. Find out if we’re the right fit for your workplace by requesting a 30-minute personal demo.

Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnight
Lori is the VP of Recognition for CSI International Inc. She has a MBA with a minor in Human Resources, is a Certified Recognition Professional and member of the SHRM blog squad. Prior to joining CSI STARS, she worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Youthography, a youth market research agency. Connect with CSI STARS on LinkedIn to learn how we cultivate a workforce that loves coming to work.