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What Iowa Employees REALLY Want

David P. Lind BenchmarkRaises? Vacations? Insurance? Ever asked your employees what’s important to them? You might be surprised.

In 2007, our firm undertook the Iowa Employment Values Study©. This study illustrates many opportunities for executives to improve employee satisfaction, even in tough times, with a limited budget.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Aretha nailed it. Being appreciated and valued is the number one workplace value for employees.

Question: “What is the one main thing your organization could do better?”

The consistent answer:  “Show appreciation for hard work.”

The cost: Better communication.

Employees want their employers to open channels of communication and recognize (acknowledge) hard workers. The study revealed that having better communication within the organization is essential to employees’ overall positive perceptions of their jobs.

High-quality communication improves virtually every aspect of employee opinion, our research found, and employers should provide plenty of opportunities for meaningful feedback from employees.

The payback: Employees who know they’re valued are proud of their organization and are significantly more positive about ALL aspects of their job.

Employees value RESPECT and ACHIEVEMENT most at work versus what their bosses think they value most. Other than the two top values, bosses clearly underestimated the order and importance of each workplace value.

Here’s the disturbing trend:  Bosses consistently underestimate the importance of a well-rounded lifestyle to their employees.

These workplace values describe organizational culture. Creating and maintaining a positive culture is the DNA of any successful organization. Understanding what employees really want is key to a positive work environment and loyalty among your workforce. What values are strongly reflected in your organization?

Benefits Matter in Iowa!

David P. Lind BenchmarkEight in 10 employees say “benefits are one of the reasons they work where they do and that benefits make them feel appreciated by their organization,” according to a recent national study* by Mercer, a human resources consulting, outsourcing and investment services firm. 

The Mercer results coincide with the results we discovered in our 2007 Iowa Employment Values Study©, conducted to better understand the opinions, perceptions, and values of Iowa employees and how they differ from their bosses.

  • We found that employees valued retirement, vacations, and health insurance as the most important benefits offered by their employers. 
  • However, their bosses severely underrated the importance of other benefits such as long term disability insurance, life insurance and dental coverage to their employees.

So why is this important to you, the employer?  First, the investment made for employee benefits can be extraordinarily large, roughly 40% of an employee’s total compensation. You could potentially be overpaying for benefits that are not highly appreciated or not investing in benefits that employees greatly value. 

Avoid assuming you know what is important to your employees—you may need to ask them. Demographics such as age, gender, education level, race, generation distribution (Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y) all play key roles in determining what benefits are (or will be) most important to them. 

I leave you with one encouraging gem to consider. Employee benefits are important to employees, but the top four workplace values clearly desired by Iowa employees are not as expensive as you may think.  They are (in order):

Respect—being appreciated and valued in the workplace

Achievement—the sense of purpose and meaning from work

Balance—the opportunity to balance work time with family needs

Job Security—confidence that the job will be there every day, that it will not be phased out  

* Link to the “Mercer Workplace Survey.”