People, leadership, benefits, work-life balance and learning opportunities all affect whether a workplace's employees are highly engaged, according to new research.
To help businesses develop a culture that helps encourage engagement, researchers from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. and WorkplaceTrends.com surveyed human resources professionals, managers and nonmanaging employees to better understand what matters most to them.
Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute, said organizations need the right formula to keep employees engaged.
"Good chemistry with employees starts at the top, with senior leadership identifying the elements of workplace culture that will support their strategy," Maroney said in a statement. "Just as important is ensuring this formula is well understood and executed by people managers throughout the organization." [See Related Story: The 4 Things That Keep Employees Interested In Their Jobs]
Based on the data, researchers found 25 elements needed to foster an engaging workplace:
Culture over performance: Nearly 60 percent of the HR professionals surveyed would fire a high-performing employee who did not fit into the company culture or did not get along with their co-workers.
Appreciation: More than half of employees get a high sense of satisfaction from their work when they get a simple "thank you" from their boss.
Friendships: Nearly two-thirds of employees believe having friendships at work is important to their performance.
Boomerangs: Although there was a time when many employers had policies restricting the rehiring of former employees, more than three-quarters of businesses are now open to the hiring of these so-called boomerang employees.
Leadership: HR professionals and managers believe that having executives who lead by example is the most important aspect of their workplace culture.
Innovation: Although workers at all levels believe innovation is critical to their company's success, not everyone agrees that their company encourages employees to come up with new ideas.
Active feedback: Nearly half of HR professionals and managers regularly ask employees for their opinions in order to preserve and strengthen their workplace culture.
Flexible bosses: Nearly one-quarter of employees believe having a flexible manager is required for a positive work-life balance.
Customer-centric: More than 40 percent of the HR professionals and bosses surveyed get insights from their customers when developing new ideas.
Mentors: While millennial employees prefer mentorships, just 20 percent of those surveyed said they were given a mentor when they started working for their employer.
Benefits: Excluding pay, getting better employee benefits is the top reason employees would leave their employer; nearly one-quarter of employees said they'd leave their company for that reason.
Recognition: Nearly half of the HR professionals surveyed think offering more rewards and recognition is an important way to retain employees.
Wellness: Nearly one-quarter of both managers and employees believe offering health programs is an important aspect of retention strategies.
Flexibility: Having a flexible work environment contributes to both retention and work-life balance. The research revealed that 24 percent of HR professionals and 35 percent of managers recognize that providing employees with more flexibility is an effective strategy for retention, while more than one-quarter of everyone surveyed think flexible schedules help improve work-life balance.
Personal time: Employers understand that having some "me time" is important for employees. More than 80 percent of the employees surveyed said their workload doesn't stop them from engaging in personal activities at home or in the office.
Generational awareness: More than 40 percent of the HR processionals surveyed change their recruiting pitch based on the age of the candidate they are pitching to, by highlighting the aspects each generation will find most appealing.
Vacations: Nearly one-third of employees believe the best way their employer can help them achieve a positive work-life balance is by giving them paid or unpaid time off.
Work-life balance: Besides pay and having co-workers that respect each other, work-life balance is the most important aspect of workplace culture, according to 40 percent of the employees surveyed.
Retention: More than 85 percent of HR professionals and 79 percent of bosses are confident in their ability to retain current staff members.
Career development: More than 40 percent of the HR professionals surveyed believe investing in career development training is important to retaining employees.
Onboarding: Less than 15 percent of the employees surveyed said their employer has a formal onboarding plan.
Traveling: Giving employees the opportunity to travel as part of their job is a retention strategy used by more than 20 percent of HR professionals and managers.
Work exchanges: Nearly one-third of HR professionals believe giving employees the ability to test out different roles within the company is good way to ensure they don't leave for another organization.
Younger professional programming: Actively seeking input from millennials and Generation Z workers when developing employment programming is a good way to keep younger workers engaged.
Promotions: Rather than always looking outside the company to fill a role, 30 percent of bosses hire from within the organization in order to hold on to top workers.
"While this 'periodic table' of essential workplace elements is in no way exhaustive, it is a reminder that our workplaces are a complex equation of people, programs and policies that each have a daily impact on employee happiness and engagement," Maroney said.
The research was based on surveys of 601 HR professionals, 604 managers and 602 full-time, nonmanaging employees.