Why Leaders Should Invest in Emotional Compensation

As the workforce evolves, companies are refining their processes for attracting and keeping top talent. When considering ways to promote employee retention, compensation is usually associated with monetary value. When rewarding employees for their efforts, have you considered more than just increasing pay, giving extra time off, and offering attractive benefit packages? Employees want to be paid well to do the things they need and want outside of work, but also want to feel good about their work environment. Investing in another retention tool, “emotional compensation,” could help improve the overall employee experience.

What is Emotional Compensation?

Michael Lee Stallard, cofounder and president of a think tank and consultancy, coined the term “emotional compensation,” which he believes will become more significant and valued by workers. According to Stellard, influential leaders will make investments in the following seven needs to help create a work environment that values employees’ well-being and motivates them to stick around and produce their best work:

  1. Respect
  2. Recognition
  3. Meaning
  4. Belonging
  5. Autonomy
  6. Personal Growth
  7. Progress

With these emotional compensation values in mind, leaders can hold themselves accountable for ensuring employees not only receive financial incentives, but implement behaviors that could encourage employee loyalty, commitment, and productivity.  

Emotional Compensation in Action

  • Engage and Connect With Employees: During the interview process, potential candidates are asked professional and personal questions that assist leaders in deciding who to hire. Why should the discussion end once they accept the job? Take the time to learn about your employees’ hobbies and interests. Share your personal experiences to demonstrate that you are more than just your job title. Work has to get done, but casual conversation can also be incorporated into the workflow to break up the monotony of work. Because we spend a great deal of our time at work, we must pay attention to those we interact with regularly.
  • Encourage Training and Mentorship Opportunities: Workers today want to gain new skills that will help them build their portfolios. Engage with and listen to employees’ career goals. Encourage them to take advantage of any available in-person or virtual professional development opportunities. Along with training, investing in mentorship allows employees to learn and receive insight from their peers and leaders. You can also urge employees to use their skills and talents to help others.
  • Provide Specific Employee Recognition: Who doesn’t appreciate constructive praise of their work? After an employee or team has worked hard on a project or presentation, feedback is crucial. When thanking employees, make sure to deliver specific compliments rather than generic ones. Instead of simply saying, “Hey, you’re doing a great job,” give an example of what they did well to show that you value their efforts and it’s not just another assignment checked off the list.

Emotional compensation can be an investment that will not only benefit employees, but it should also be rewarding for company leaders.

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