Beyond the Benefits and Perks, Managers Influence the Employee Experience

Companies are getting creative and extremely generous when offering its employees benefits, perks, and incentives. But despite all the lists that rate companies with the best perks, some of those once “hot extras” don’t seem competitive and meaningful anymore. During the dot-com bubble, I saw how attractive it was to be lured to companies that offered enticing perks and benefits like generous option portfolios, memberships to the best gyms, or BMWs as signing bonuses. But since that bubble burst long ago, there’s a different kind of pressure on companies to attract candidates now.

Even if you may be working at one of the world’s most admired companies, or at a company that is listed as the best place to work, it’s my manager who has a direct influence on making me feel good about coming to work. I’ve had the good fortune to work at some great companies, including those that have made those popular lists, but it’s the intangible perks—the things that my manager does that make me feel good about coming to work—that make an impact. Whether your company has the best benefits and perks, the whole package is what makes the employee experience meaningful, and managers have a direct influence on it.

A Sense of Purpose in My Work
The sentiment that employees are just working for a paycheck is long gone. We care about the work we’re doing. So, I want my manager to help me understand that what I’m doing is meaningful to the company or what I’m doing is helping make something better. I want my manager to tell me how my work is adding value to the greater project, product, or to the team.

Alignment with the Company’s Mission or Values
I genuinely care how the company goes about doing things and how they make business decisions. I want to be aligned with the principles of how the company takes actions. And I need my manager to embody the company’s culture too. If my manager doesn’t demonstrate the company’s culture, they won’t be able to help me succeed in the organization.

Quality Time with My Manager
The time I spend with my manager is important. I expect my manager to give me guidance and feedback so that I can be successful in my role. I want my manager to know my drive, my strengths, and the things I want to accomplish. And similarly, I want my manager to know the things I struggle with, and support and challenge me in a manner that will drive me to be better at my job.

Senior Leaders Are Visible and Accessible
Although I may not have regular face-to-face time with senior leaders in my organization, I want to see them and feel that they are accessible. I want to see my manager interact with senior leaders from time to time, and I want them to know what my team or department does. When my manager regularly communicates and shares the company’s goals or progress, it makes me feel they’re engaged in the organization.

Help Me with Tools and Resources
When my manager recognizes the tools or resources that I need to do my job well and helps me get access to them, I feel I can be successful at my job. I have seen a shift in companies improving the office environment to make it a more positive place to work, but it’s also about managers providing the right things at the right time to employees.

A Work Balance
Balance is different for everyone. But when my manager understands the way in which I need a work-life balance, I can better be engaged. And that also means I need my manager to show me that they can balance work and life too. A manager who sends messages late at night or on the weekends isn’t going to be a positive role model for this balance.

Even if companies are offering its employees comprehensive insurance benefits, employees are looking for the perks—the extra stuff that makes coming to work meaningful. And while some companies offer some great perks to its employees, the biggest influence on the employee experience is the manager. Managers, what have you done for your employees lately to make it a great place to work?

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