5 Ways to Make Every Employee Feel Like a Valued Teammate

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When employees feel included, regardless of role level, your organization is more resilient to economic shocks.

The employee experience predicts how your company will perform in a recession.

Great Place To Work® research shows that companies that prioritize the experience of every employee not only avoided the pain of the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009, they actually posted a 14.4% gain in stock performance.

What made the difference? One of the key experiences identified by researchers: Employees were treated as a full member of the team, regardless of their role. When employees felt respected and included, particularly if those employees were members of critical employee groups like frontline workers, women, and people of color, companies were more resilient.

A culture of respect

What’s happening when employees don’t feel valued by the organization? Often, it’s a question of hierarchy.

Do employees at every level of the organization feel they have a voice in its future? Can frontline employees contribute new ideas as easily as backroom managers?

Does every employee, regardless of role, understand the unique value they bring to fulfilling the mission of the organization?

Employees want to know that you value their expertise. That means leaders must not only send the message that every employee plays a critical role in business success, but also use employee feedback to inform their decisions.

When leaders only use one department’s feedback to drive strategic choices, it sends the message that some employees matter more than others.

Here’s what it sounds like when employees don’t feel included:

“I wish upper management would treat everyone equally and fairly. I would like to feel my opinions matter and are important. I want to be a part of the team.”

“… certain VPs have their special group of people who are given all of the opportunities. If you are not in that group, you will not be considered for any promotions or projects that will provide exposure. The same people over and over are given all the recognition and plum assignments.” 

Conversely, when employees feel valued, they are more likely to give extra effort and to innovate. Here’s what it sounds like when employees are valued and celebrated for their unique contributions:

“People here genuinely care about your success. Leaders strive to develop and give feedback on how to prepare for the next level.”

“Everyone is thoughtful and caring. People truly do want the best for others. Leaders actively solicit feedback to do things better, and action the feedback they receive.”

“People, overall, value each other. Management doesn’t seem to micro-manage and trusts me to do my job to the best of my ability.”

“I am treated as a person. My opinion counts. My company cares.”

Making employees feel valued

What are the ways great companies ensure their employees feel included and valued? Most organizations heap praise on at least one group of employees.

The true difference is felt when traditionally overlooked roles are also given their shine. At the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®, 90% of employees report being treated as a full member, regardless of role.

Here are some practices from companies that ensure everyone feels they have an impact:

1. Find ways for everyone to innovate

The C-suite isn’t the only place to find good ideas. The best companies are those that create opportunities for everyone to innovate, whether that is improving the product, creating more efficient workflows, or delivering better customer service.

2. Ensure fair pay and benefits across roles

If the receptionist has a different health care plan than your sales reps, you immediately create a divide within the organization. Those who receive less are going to feel less valued by the organization, and they aren’t going to contribute their ideas no matter how many innovation fairs you hold.

A best practice to avoid this disparity is to seek employee input on benefits and total rewards.

Pay equity is another powerful tool for helping employees see how you value their contributions. That doesn’t mean you pay everyone the same across the organization. It does mean you have to clearly identify what skills you value and communicate with employees how they can grow their career.

Mastercard Asia Pacific runs an annual event for its employees globally in a Careers Month where a suite of activities, events and speed mentoring are designed to allow employees to have the opportunity to own their career and to invest time in their personal and professional career development.  Learning Academies are established so that employees can also tap into self-paced learning to suit every employee’s need and style of learning.

3. Recognize and celebrate extra effort for all roles

When your organization meets one of its stretch goals, does every employee get rewarded for their contributions?

4. Eliminate favoritism and bias

When some employees have an easier time getting attention from top leaders, recognized for their contributions, or promoted into new roles, other employees feel left behind.

To ensure everyone feels like a valued partner in your organization, you have to ensure that promotions are fair, and that employee evaluations follow clearly defined frameworks.

5. Recognize the human story behind every employee

What does it look like when companies show sincere interest in every employee, regardless of their position in the company?

Start by asking who is invisible in your organization. What kinds of roles rarely get celebrated at company town hall meetings? Who is working in the basement of the building? What names can the CEO easily recall — and what names escape their notice?

To remedy this issue, many organizations are creating programs to share employees’ unique stories.

When you showcase the stories behind your people, you start to appreciate their full value to your organization. It’s often much more than their defined role responsibilities.

At DHL Express Singapore, working together as one team is a key tagline for the employees. It aims to give its employees a purpose that goes beyond just the work of delivering packages. The company believes that when employees are engaged, customers feel it, and that creates customer loyalty. The leadership spends time to train and equip new team and frontline leaders so as to impart values that can in turn be passed on to other employees.

Learn about your workforce

Use Certification™ to benchmark the experience of your employees against the best data on workplace culture available.

Ted Kitterman

Ted Kitterman is a content manager for Great Place to Work®. Ted has experience covering the workplace, business communications, public relations, internal communications, work culture, employee well-being, brand purpose and more. His work shines a light on the unparalleled data and insights offered by Great Place to Work’s decades of research, helping the company share its vision of a great place to work For All™.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.