Maya Angelou once said, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

It can be hard to take this sentiment as more than a mere platitude in a world where cash is king, but for employees, it rings true. Happiness in the workplace leads to productive workers, and it turns out, salary isn’t the key to workplace happiness.

Via, Dapulse, a workplace collaboration tool, polled 10,000 users and asked a simple but profound question:

“What makes you happy at work?”

A strong company culture and useful perks towered over the idea of salary, but, in the end, one simple factor seemed to make workers the happiest—feeling valued.

Leah Walters of Dapulse noted, “But at the end of the day what we are learning time and time again from our users, and also as a company ourselves is, it is how you personally feel your work is being valued that makes you happier.”

A sense of being valued and belonging at work is what employees crave, and with the Great Resignation in full swing, a significant amount of employees are choosing happiness over salary. Workplaces need to examine their culture and see if they fit the bill. TalentCulture’s Andrew Nelson offered six ways to make employees feel valued. We look at our favorites.

Create innovative compensation packages

We just established that salary isn’t the key to workplace happiness, but a good compensation package is about more than money. Nelson writes that the traditional nine-to-five in the office is quickly fading, and employers need to offer new perks to compensate and keep their employees engaged.

Perkbox found that 66% of U.K. workers desired a more personalized benefits package, going beyond insurance and retirement deals (though those were still important!). What does a personalized benefits package look like?

Nelson suggested flexible schedules and leave policies, paid childcare, perks that improve employee well-being (gym memberships, counseling, etc.), and entertainment subscriptions. Indeed offers even more ideas, including performance pay and incentives (a great way to let an employee know their contributions are valued), transportation reimbursement, and volunteer days.

These perks are more in line with the reality of life in the 2020s and show a workplace committed to its employees and keeping with the times.

Stay modern

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: remote work is here to stay. We aren’t out of the woods with COVID-19 yet, and, regardless, remote work is a part of life now. A savvy workplace needs to embrace technology and keep the workplace modernized to keep employees feeling valued.

We’ve previously covered how to onboard remote teams and how to keep them engaged from home. Nelson reiterates the importance of adding company- or department-wide calls into the schedule to create a shared space to share ideas and praise. Social media can be a boon, especially for millennials. A workplace Teams space, Slack channel, or Discord server can be a place to exchange ideas or even just replace the water cooler as a platform for conversation.

For employees still working out of the office, modernizing the workplace is still a key. Forbes found that a massive number of employees seek a healthier workplace.

“An overwhelming majority (87%) of workers would like their current employer to offer healthier workspace benefits, with options ranging from wellness rooms, company fitness benefits, sit-stands, healthy lunch options and ergonomic seating.” -Forbes

Few people want to work in the stereotypical fluorescent lighting-filled cubicle jungle, and if you’ve ever worked in one, you know it’s hard to feel valued in that environment. Creating a welcoming environment for employees in and out of the office shows a commitment to investing in them, leading to a greater sense of value.

Make growth a priority

Many of Nelson’s suggestions (challenge employees, provide critical feedback) call back to a central theme: providing a foundation for growth. In the above section, we mentioned investing in employees, and this is another way to do that. If the modernized workplace is the soil, the interpersonal connections are the sunshine and water to help an employee blossom.

Giving an employee a challenging assignment shows that you believe in their capabilities while rotating employees through different assignments gives them a chance to grow, writes Nelson. Constructive feedback leads to growth and more success down the road, and actively taking time to mentor an employee shows how valued they are. Take an interest in their work and provide ways to invest in your employees.

Of course, don’t skimp out on the praise either. Indeed believes celebrating accomplishments is a great way to remind workers of their tangible accomplishments. Celebrate small and large numerical accomplishments, including customer satisfaction ratings, sales growth, new services, products, and clients, and onboarding new members. These reminders are a great way to foster a sense of value and growth.

Wrap up

They say money can’t buy happiness, and data supports the idea money isn’t the source of workplace happiness. Creating a mighty workplace culture of growth and value is the key to happy employees, and any organization wanting top-tier employees needs to view their value and happiness as a wise investment.

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