What Do Employees Really Want? Hint: Money Is the Least of It.

by : 

Kim Perkins

December 1, 2012

Most of the time, our automatic answer to the question of what will make employees happier is “money!” That’s what all employees want, isn’t it? More money and better benefits?

While money is a necessary and important part of the employee satisfaction equation, study after study of what makes an employee happy often has money far from the top of the list. If you give more money to an unhappy employee, you only have an unhappy employee who is wealthier than before. So, what is most important?


All people want to feel valued and appreciated, and our employees are no different. Don’t be afraid to offer a simple “thank you” often and lavish praise if warranted. Listen to their suggestions and implement them if you can. Show them in as many ways as you can that you have their best interests at heart and appreciate their dedication to your business.


Employees want to be paid fairly, but more than that, they also want to be treated like adults and be supported by management and co-workers. They want to be trusted and empowered to perform their jobs. An honest manager who treats everyone fairly is also very important. It’s a lot more fun to work with and for people you trust and enjoy.


They want to know what is expected of them and that they have done a job well. By having clear job descriptions and written expectations, you provide a platform so they know if they meet or exceed company goals. And they want to be acknowledged and rewarded when they do. Consider a sales bonus plan or a monthly employee recognition award at your next staff meeting.


They want an opportunity to learn and grow. Even if there is not much room for upward advancement, they want the chance to have their ideas heard and to increase their knowledge. Find out what area of your store an employee naturally gravitates to (Do they love to read? Show a strong interest in decor? Fascinated by essential oils?) and allow them to receive additional training to become a “specialist” in that area and a trusted resource for the rest of the staff.


Employees want to know they are making a contribution and have a sense of purpose. Having a clear vision and mission that your employees can embrace will bolster satisfaction and morale. Feeling part of a team that’s truly making a difference on the planet, even if it is one person at a time, brings a new level of commitment.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (www.elysianfieldsonline.com), an award-winning store located in Sarasota, Fla.