According to Marcos Cordero, CEO and co-founder of Gradvisor, contests that many organizations make the mistake of thinking that employees always put their salary above everything else.

Here are four things employees want from an employer and the best benefits and strategies that meet those needs:


Employees want to know they will be treated fairly and that any questions they have will be answered truthfully.

To see how much transparency matters to employees, consider this statistic: according to a Payscale report, 82% of employees said they would be satisfied with lower salary as long as the employer was honest about the reasons why.

True transparency isn’t limited to salary. Find ways to foster open communication between all levels of the organization. For example, setting aside time for executives to meet with employees in small groups is great way to build and maintain their trust. That way, employees will be able to ask questions and hear honest answers face-to-face.

Help planning for children’s college

A Gallup survey found that 73% of employees with children under the age 18 are worried about being able to cover their children’s college costs, making it their number one household financial concern.

In most cases, simply getting paid more money isn’t enough to help employees overcome this concern. They also need advice on the best savings route for their family and prepare for their children’s education.

Clear healthcare benefits

Although healthcare is important to employees, it means little unless they understand how it helps them.

report from Collective Health found that, while more than 75% of employees say healthcare benefits play a big part in their decision in taking a job, 60% are still perplexed by the benefits offered to them.

In addition to basic healthcare benefits, also consider the user support and experience of the benefits.

Are there easily accessible resources that can answer employees’ questions?

Does the benefit have a good reputation for customer service?

These are important things to consider so you can ensure that you’re choosing the best benefits for your employees’ health.

To feel appreciated

It might seem simple, but it’s something that often gets overlooked: appreciating employees. They come into the office every workday and do their best to contribute to the team’s success. Yet, all too often, they don’t even receive a “Thank you” for their effort. And that’s a missed opportunity for employers, considering a report from BCG Perspectives found the number one factor influencing job happiness is being appreciated.

There are countless benefits that help employers show their appreciation. Everything from bulletin boards with messages praising employees to apps that make recognition more interactive.

According to Cord Himelstein, “Please” and “thank you” are powerful, but they have their limits. Tangible rewards and recognition like gift cards, displayable awards can excite the senses more.

Psychologists call this extrinsic (external) versus intrinsic (internal) motivation. There are things in this world that motivate our extrinsic outer desires (such as material gains and social status), and there are other things that motivate our intrinsic inner desires (such as validation, respect, and inclusion). The human psyche needs a balance of both to reach peak motivation, not just at work, but at any task in life. If we get too much of one over the other, the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

  •  Consider balancing email praise with a physical reward or more personal thanks if possible. Research shows that the more personal the gratitude is, the more effective it becomes. Eye contact makes a “thank you” a thousand times more genuine, and even a phone call is more personal.
  • Managers should figure out a casual-to-formal recognition ratio to achieve sustainable balance.

According to WorldatWork, 80% of organizations have a budget for their recognition program with 42% allocating 0.1% to 0.3% of their payroll cost to it. They are not usually overly expensive initiatives.

Money isn’t everything. Employees need and want more than just a paycheck from their job. In order to keep them happy and give them what they deserve, you need to better understand their priorities and the best benefits and strategies to address them.

Finnaly, the key in engagement lies in management’s ability to connect with employees as individuals, build real relationships and find out what truly motivates them. Employees must be approached with the same objective balance, no matter how casual or informal workplace relationships become.