By Avery Phillips

For years, making money was the only priority for businesses, and anything that stood in the way of that couldn’t be afforded. Balancing one’s emotional health with getting their job done could be hard, because money was time and they had a job to protect!

Of course a company still needs to profit. But we’ve learned that catering to people’s emotional and recreational needs is good for productivity, not harmful to it. We’ve found employees are bound to do a better job if they actually feel cared for by their employers. So the next question is: how do we make employees feel good about coming to work and treat them the best we can?

Benefits. Good Benefits.

People need certain benefits to live their best lives, and when employers refuse to provide certain benefits, it gets really hard to put significant effort into day-to-day tasks. In a piece put together by Fast Company, it was found that the top five benefits, according to employees themselves, are (in order): health care insurance, vacation, PTO, performance bonuses, paid sick days, and (surprisingly last) a 401(K) plan.

The article also reported that maternity and paternity leave, free gifts and item incentives, significant company time off, and paid for family fun made for happy employees. As you’ll see next, the happier the employee, the more likely they are to do a good job.

Use Emotional Intelligence

Regis College, in a piece highlighting their infographic about Emotional Intelligence (E.I.), wrote that individuals with high emotional intelligence are often “driven to excel in everything that they do and they always find more room to improve.” Similarly, University of Maryland reported that E.I. could be the leading factor behind 58 percent of variations in professional and personal success factors. They cited several studies that found productivity and overall employee and manager morale increased when management enacted E.I. habits.

Open communication, encouragement, and a relationship of trust between employees and their employers make for better results in the office. It shouldn’t be a shocker that someone can do their best work when they’re in a good mindset, but it’s still a relatively new concept. Regardless, more and more companies are learning the value of E.I. for their own profit and longevity.

Be Supportive of Education

While it might be a foreign concept to many of us, some businesses are encouraging and even helping their employees further their education. We covered this ourselves in writing about how businesses are improving their own professional standards, but in case you need a recap: Anything from online training to college classes and seeking a degree can better employees in their skill sets. As Small Biz Daily Contributor Hannah Whittenly wrote, “employees that feel like you care about them improving their skill sets are more likely to stay with your company. They are more likely to work harder towards your business’s goals.”

Without a doubt this is something that has to be pondered and put together carefully should you choose to pursue it. How much are you investing in their education and degrees? How much time might it take away from their work? Do you only help with an online degree or chip in for a community college or university class? And what kind of degree will help you both the most? Should they get a master’s or reapply for a second bachelor’s, and will it really better their work for you?

These are questions you need to ask to make sure you’re not losing out on an employee when you consider helping them with their education. However, you may find that, under the right circumstances, it proves to be very profitable for you.

Be Inclusive

Women and minorities have often had unfortunate, discriminatory, and negative experiences in the workplace. Whether it’s unequal pay, bigoted aggression, or not being hired in the first place due to irrational bias and phobia — we have a lot of work to do.

Make sure that your hiring committee is choosing their new hires off of qualifications. Your recruiter should not have a job if they get caught discriminating. All employees should be trained the same and given truly equal opportunity to progress within your business. And good work should be rewarded regardless of who does it.

This is, thankfully, a topic being widely talked about and worked on. Campaigns such as HeForShe are working to promote gender equality in the workplace (due to the wage gap and widespread sexual harassment cases). Learning institutions such as Arizona State University are actively working to prepare women to be leaders in the workforce as well. Organizations like Out and Equal are advocates for LGBTQ+ folk in the workplace, since their community faces an extreme amount of workplace discrimination that’s rarely talked about. And, of course, the ACLU has been working for years to demand equal rights for people regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and age.

New Ways For People to Progress

One reason a lot of people leave their jobs is there’s no way for them to advance within an organization. Now, this is not a call to make every tenured employee a manager. You need to know what makes a good manager and what doesn’t, and just because someone does their job well doesn’t mean they can help other people do their jobs well. But setting up advancement tracks for employees to eventually build careers should be a priority if you want people to stick around.

Employees do not typically jump job to job on purpose. They just want a career and a place to call home. But they need reasons to stay, and they can’t do all of the same tasks forever with no pay raise. As your organization or company grows, do your best to incorporate your employees into your future plans and changes. If you can do this, you’ll have better employee retention and stay respected by employees that leave as well.

How do you try to go the extra mile for your employees? What have you tried that’s worked and what have you tried that has not? We’d love to hear about it all! Drop us a line in the comments below!

Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.