Every person has different reasons for working - the reasons for working are as individual as the person. But, we all work because we obtain something that we need from work - something that impacts morale, something that impacts employee motivation, and/or something that impacts the quality of life. Employees want to be treated as if they matter - because employees do matter!

Ask bosses what makes employees happy at work, and many are likely to think in terms of tangible rewards: a good salary, a pleasant office, generous benefits.

That said, an abundance of resources; surveys, articles and experts, suggest that for the employee, job satisfaction comes more from the intangibles than from pay. Factors like a positive work environment, recognition of the employee or the team, and challenging work generally top these lists. What generally stands out in these is the underlying fact that while money is important (we all have responsibilities, mortgages, bills, and so on), whatever employees want from their job, money is generally not number one.

Career specialists emphasize that happiness is highly individual as each employee will have a very different definition of what brings him or her satisfaction on the job. Even so, certain priorities remain constant in terms of what employees say makes them happy. Here are seven intangibles workers want most:

1. Appreciation/ Recognition
Praise and recognition head the list for many workers in the search for happiness.
Supervisors and managers often let employees know what they have done wrong, but don't bother to congratulate and praise them for success. Praise does not cost anything to give, but its benefits on employee morale are priceless.

2. Respect
This attitude costs nothing and yet yields big dividends.
Employees want to be treated fairly and with respect. Employees want to be paid what they're worth, treated like adults, and rewarded for their good work. Respecting employees' ideas and time, as well as their ability to make decisions and be creative, makes them want to stay.

3. Trust
Going hand in hand with respect is trust. Employees need to feel they can trust the people with and for whom they work.

4. Individual growth
Employees often cite the need for the opportunity to grow and learn on the job. Employees want to understand how their efforts contribute to the business and want to feel that they are making a difference to their team, their department, and the company. There is a desire to receive training, to take on new challenges, to expand their capabilities; the focus is less about compensation and more about advancement, improved capabilities, and recognition of achievement marked by a new position.

5. A Good Boss
Bosses also play key roles in determining a worker's happiness factor. Employees often admit that they don't leave companies, they leave bosses. If bosses aren't honest with workers, don't listen to them, and don't care about them, employees either leave or become disengaged in their work. Having a fair, sympathetic manager who makes employees feel valued is a crucial element to an employee's job satisfaction.

6. Compatible co-workers
Working with people they enjoy is a key factor in employee satisfaction. There is a need to be able to respect the people for and with whom you work for their knowledge and experience as well as for their ethics; people who will listen to your ideas, people with whom you can laugh, people who share a vision for the work you do together.

7. A Sense of Purpose
Above all, career counsellors emphasize the importance of doing something you love and having a sense of purpose. Most people find happiness at work when they feel connected to the core purpose of the organization.

While what people want from work is generally situational and is dependent on each person, their needs and the rewards that are meaningful to them can be really quite straight forward, and indeed not very costly.

Courtesy of:
The Burke Group