What do your employees really want; a shiny new ping pong table and catered lunches or can you make them happy with the basic “benefit” of providing honest employee feedback?
A recent survey of 1,000 full-time employees across the US found 81% of workers would rather join a company that values “open communication” than one that offers great perks such as top health plans, free food, and gym memberships. Yet only 15% of employees surveyed said their current companies were doing a “very good” job fostering honesty at the office.
Millennials (aged 18-34) who make up 36% of the US workforce and will account for nearly half by 2020, get an especially bad rap for having thin skins, having grown up amid ample praise from parents, teachers, and coaches. Yet they are even more apt than older colleagues to choose a company that values honest feedback over one that gives top perks; 84% said an open communication policy was more important than perks in choosing a job, vs. 77% of boomers (aged 51-69).
Of course, the old-fashioned practice of managers calling out missteps in quarterly or yearly performance reviews does little to motivate any employee and especially backfires with millennials. So when it comes to honesty at the office, weekly communication (not just quarterly check-ins) is key.
Older managers who value independence and personal drive may balk at giving “constant feedback” to their younger employees, but if they adopt tools and procedures to make regular communication easier, such as online platforms or weekly email check-ins, then a culture of continual feedback becomes less onerous. Everyone benefits from a company culture where team members are encouraged to be honest, sharing both positive and negative feedback.
Companies that stifle communication suffer from high turnover, unhappy employees, low productivity, and lost revenues. Truly open communication gives room for honest discussions about mistakes and how to improve performance.
Since honesty goes both ways, it’s not just a manager saying “you messed up”. Instead, employees are invited to be honest, too, bringing up their own frustrations and sharing ideas for how to improve problems. This creates a culture of transparency where both employees and managers feel comfortable speaking up.
This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.