The Foolproof Way to Learn What Employees Want


Topics: Engagement & Productivity, Communication, HR, Engagement, Internal Communications

What do employees want most? It’s a question that every manager wrestles with, but despite the wealth of research on the topic the answer is still unclear.

A global study by the Boston Consulting Group found that, when asked to rate factors in their happiness on the job, respondents ranked intrinsic attributes including being shown appreciation for your work, positive relationships with colleagues and superiors and opportunities for learning and career development higher than an attractive fixed salary. Other research has shown that employee engagement and motivation tend to remain the same regardless of salary.

Meanwhile, according to SAP SE’s Workforce 2020 report, competitive compensation is the most important benefit of a job for two-thirds of employees, 20% more important than the next highest factor.

Part of the confusion is that it depends on what you’re really trying to get at when you ask what employees want.

Are you concerned about what makes employees accept a job offer, why they leave, what gives them satisfaction or what motivates them to be productive? For example, higher pay may give someone enough satisfaction to stick with a job, but there is little evidence to show that it will motivate them to work harder—in fact it may even be a demotivating factor.

So, rather than trying to guess at the perfect balance between salary and benefits, why not try asking your employees what actually matters to them? It may seem obvious, but most companies would never dream of this approach—and thus they remain in the dark, because, let’s face it, even with all the market insights in the world at your disposal, you may not have the right set of data at hand. What works at one organization does not necessarily work at the next.

Broad research can certainly provide helpful guidance, but asking for feedback from your own employees can help you direct resources towards initiatives that will be most impactful on your actual employees. Not only is this an effective way of gathering information, it also demonstrates to your employees that their input is valued, contributing to a healthy work culture.

This is why Qnnect includes a survey feature to enable businesses to directly ask their employees for feedback. By sending employees an easy-to-complete survey or poll, you can gain insights into what they like about their job currently, what they’d like to see more of in the future, and how they rate various benefits in term of priority. These surveys can be sent to everyone via their smartphones, making it simple for workers to respond even if they don’t have a company email address or a computer.

We know that non-desk workers are not going to care much about ergonomic seating at the head office, so it’s also useful to distinguish between the priorities of employees in different business functions. For example, office workers may value the opportunity to work from home on certain days of the week, while remote workers might value remote office setup assistance or occasional access to a coworking space. Then again, that might not be the case at all!

The answers to questions about employee happiness are complex, but sometimes they’re hiding right under our noses. So, why not just ask?

Tony Boatman

Tony Boatman

Tony is the Co Founder and CEO of Qnnect. He is based in New York.