Have you considered the benefits employees derive from working that are not financial?
This is known as the emotional salary. It is the non-financial gains we obtain from working that motivate us and lead to professional and personal development.
For some this may be the social aspect of work and making connections with others.
For others it may be the opportunity to become an expert in your field and achieve recognition.
Work satisfaction is not just about remuneration any-longer, it’s about employee welfare and benefits that are not financial in nature.
Emotional salary is important because it improves the job satisfaction of employees, increases personal development and improves mental health. These are all important in order to have a productive and motivated workforce.
Salary remains important, an employer shouldn’t replace it with emotional salary.
But it is not the only thing that matters. Employees want to feel valued and supported in their careers by their employers in order to achieve their full potential.
The Mental Health Crisis
Mental health related absence is the most common cause of long-term sickness absence in UK workplaces.
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of employee ill health and 54% of working days lost, in 2018/19 (HSE, 2019).
And that was before the pandemic.
70 million work days are lost each year because of mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.
As well as sickness absence, poor mental health at work can lead to reduced productivity, increased staff turnover and high presenteeism.
Poor mental health covers issues with anxiety, stress, low mood and depression.
Everyone’s mood fluctuates but it is described as a problem if these symptoms continue for a prolonged period of time.
Work related stress is a mental health problem, defined by the Health and Safety Executive as a reaction to excessive pressure or other type of demand placed on an individual at work. Stress can be a significant cause of illness.
How to provide a good emotional salary
To help the improve the mental health and emotional salary of staff, employers need to look at doing the following:
1. Listen to their staff
Employees need to feel valued and that the job they are doing is worthwhile.
They should be provided with career advice and direction so that they know where they stand and where to aim for. Employees need to feel a sense of belonging to the company.
Employers should listen to what is important to staff and what would bring them more enjoyment in their employment.
Some may value flexible hours – as long as they do their job, maybe they shouldn’t need to be tied to the office from 9 to 5.
Allowing some home working will also not really affect the company but will mean a lot to the employee.
Others may value childcare opportunities to help them manage their work/life balance.
2. Allow creativity and autonomy
Employees should be given the ability to manage their own workload where possible, with the flexibility for them to be creative if desired.
Allowing autonomy and creativity will motivate staff to do a better job and make them feel trusted and valued.
3. Career development
Employers need to focus on training for all staff who want it so that they can further their careers and develop personally and professionally.
Better trained staff will benefit the company too. Provide career development and promotional opportunities to motivate staff.
4. Inspire staff
Employers need to lead by example and inspire their staff. Disappearing for long lunches while employees are stuck at their desks isn’t going to improve morale.
Organising social activities outside the workplace will help with morale and team-building. Building personal relationships with their colleagues will help employees’ emotional salary.
5. Create a relaxed work environment
Providing an area or room where staff can go to relax and unwind during breaks will help with the mental health of employees.
Sitting at your desk all day, even at lunchtime is not good for anyone.
Providing a TV or pool table in a separate room will help staff switch off briefly which will refresh them and give them a break.
6. Provide recognition
Giving out restaurant, hotel or spa vouchers in recognition of good work will motivate staff if promotion isn’t an option.
Allowing employees to choose which benefit they receive also allows for individuality.
Companies that pay attention to employees’ emotional salaries are more likely to retain staff and have a motivated, high-performing workforce.
Retaining staff is a lot easier and cheaper than having to recruit and train, so everyone benefits.
MD Alan Jenkins said ‘We are now encouraging training and career development and we also have a chill-out area in the office.
We design, build and transport more than 600 modular stands every year, so we know how busy and stressful can be sometimes for our company, but with these small things we have benefitted from better teamwork and improved morale so it has been worth it.
Salary vs Emotional Salary
As part of looking after employees’ emotional salary it’s important to provide them with a fair salary and regular salary increases.
Emotional salary shouldn’t be a replacement for financial salary, if staff aren’t fairly remunerated that will really lower morale.
A rise in salary makes staff feel appreciated and will motivate them to do better.
So whilst salary and emotional salary are separate things you shouldn’t have one without the other, it’s important to look at both.
Companies have a lot to gain from looking after their employees’ emotional intelligence. Doing so will improve the mental health of their staff and reduce staff turnover.
Providing career development, listening to your staff, giving benefits like flexible working, and rewarding staff for good work will raise morale and motivate staff.
It is also important to encourage staff bonding and team-work to make employees happier and more fulfilled.
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