Employees Don’t Want Money, Perks Or Fun Retreats

Every workplace has a culture.

Google is famous for its innovative, campus style vibe… that has a slightly cultish flavour to it.

Small businesses vary from fun and relaxed, to a family atmosphere, to petty dictatorships.

Large organisations tend to become bureaucratic nightmares. No organisation wants to become like this, but size can become unwieldy. The temptation is to create and impose rules to keep everything humming along.

Even though every rule to reduce unwanted behaviour also strangles your innovators. The art is in strangling the superstars less than you keep the slackers in line.

It’s tempting to say “whatever’s best for your employees is best for the organisation”. I want that to be true, but then I remember Derek Sivers talking about his first business, CD Baby.

He was incredibly laid back – not a style of leadership many folk adopt.

His approach to things like employee pay and conditions?

“Talk it over, tell me what you decide and I’ll make it happen.”

Which led to him handing over all his company’s revenue to them.

Whoops. Maybe focusing on employee happiness, to the exclusion of everything else, isn’t the best approach.

Having said that…

A lot of folk thing long and hard about their organisation’s culture.

I certainly do.

I like hearing stories from folk in other organisations, noting how they treat their employees and how their leaders treat them.

Organisational cultures are like foreign cultures – each one seems sensible if you “grew up” in it and alien if you didn’t.

However, there’s still a pattern amongst the noise:

Happiness and satisfaction.

Sure, you might not want to surrender all your power to your employees, Sivers-style…

But you still want to invest in their happiness.

Satisfied employees work hard, stick around, stay healthy and attract their brightest friends. They become walking billboards of how great your organisation is.

If you had a machine that created all your most valuable products, you’d want to keep it in good condition. You’d go to great lengths to maintain it.

And yet, what do you do to cultivate a great community in your organisation?

Well, it starts by paying them enough so they feel valued.

And offering enough perks to attract talent.

But every organisation plays that game – and only one can offer the best package.

How do you create the best community, if bribing them won’t cut it?

A community isn’t just a group of people. Put humans in a room together and it sometimes turns violent.

It isn’t bloodlines or familiarity.

It isn’t even a shared purpose or set of beliefs. Think of any religious schism – what Catholics and Protestants agree on vastly outweighs what they disagree on. That doesn’t stop them turning on each other, sometimes in devastating ways.

A strong, rich community can be made of strangers who don’t agree on the big issues. Anyone who’s been to festivals like Burning Man knows what I mean. You can love a guy as a brother and not even know his name.

A community comes from safety, respect and trust.

Are your employees safe to speak up?

Do they respect their leaders and are respected in return?

Do your people trust each other?

If so, you’re leagues ahead of everyone else.

The best way to enhance your organisation is with the ultimate advantage: trust.

But how do you measure something like that, let alone improve it?

Especially if your workforce is stretched thin, cynical and burned out on change?

There are simple, effective and proven strategies you can begin implementing today. I know you can unlock the creativity, productivity and joy of your employees.