What really matters

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What makes a great place to work? All kinds of publications come up with lists of them, accompanied by articles about some of the more interesting practices. You’ll read about great salaries and interesting benefits such as great free food, dry cleaning on site, and nap rooms. But when people talk about whether a workplace is great, they talk about other things.

For more than thirty years, I’ve started my programs on supervision and leadership by having the class members divide into teams and develop descriptions of a great place to work. In all that time, I don’t remember any team mentioning either salary or benefits in their final description.

Those things are important. The salary has to be imagined as fair and competitive. Same for benefits. But they’re hygiene factors. When people talk about whether a workplace is great or not, here’s what really matters.

The people matter. People want to work with other people who pull their weight and are pleasant to work with. If you’re a boss, that includes you. And part of your job is helping enforce the rules and standards.

The work matters. People want to do work that’s interesting or important. If you’re a boss, part of your job is helping team members make the connection between what they do and why it matters. Part of your job is helping keep the work interesting.

Opportunities matter. People want to make progress. They want to work somewhere where they can grow and develop. Sometimes that includes getting promoted, sometimes not. If you’re a boss, part of your job is to be a facilitator of opportunities, growth, and progress.

Boss’s Bottom Line

You’re the person who has the most impact on whether team members think they wound up in a great place to work.

What do you think? Think about a time when it was great to come to work. What was that time like?

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