The 10 Things People Want Most in Their Jobs

With the free market determining the labor costs (salaries) behind most products and services, the most important value-added component a company can offer its people will increasingly be job satisfaction.

The conclusions of most studies and my personal observations are that the main components of job satisfaction are:

  1. Recognition for a job well done — Mark Twain said he could live for two months on a good compliment.
  2. A healthy working environment — clean, well-lit, safe, adequate space; the proper equipment; inhabited by people who care and communicate in an honest, timely fashion.
  3. Meaningful work — using your time in life to help achieve something worthwhile. This work can be within the company, or outside in the community or the wider world. Reminding your team that everything that they do touches other people adds meaning to their lives.
  4. Responsibility — people need to believe they are responsible for their own actions, and that they are trusted.
  5. Accountability — a feeling of ownership and outcome–the ability to follow through on your commitments.
  6. Equitable compensation — linked not to longevity or rank, but to performance; being treated like a partner; sharing equity in the business.
  7. The chance to learn — create the opportunity to grow into a position with greater responsibility, and ultimately, to increase one’s value to the organization. Support people in getting advanced degrees or improving their skills through classes or conferences.
  8. The chance to do great work — not just work that meets minimum standards and expectations, but quality work: A+ work! Ask your team what it takes for them to do their job really well and ask them to commit to that standard.
  9. Understanding — knowing how their work relates to the overall goals of the business. Sharing the company goals and getting input from your team at your annual meeting are great tools for getting buy-in and creating understanding.
  10. The chance to work with interesting, motivated, responsible people —whose personal and professional goals are in alignment with one’s own.

The impending shortage of qualified knowledge workers makes a high ranking on these factors imperative to attract and retain the best people.

Joe Phelps is CEO of The Phelps Group, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based integrated marketing communications firm, and author of Pyramids Are Tombs, from which this article is excerpted.

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