The one thing you must do to have satisfied employees

Compensation data and software company PayScale released new data on employee engagement, showing that “appreciation” is the thing employees value most when determining how they feel about their company’s culture.

The report says that “how people are paid relative to the market for their position matters relatively little in terms of employee satisfaction. What does matter is how employees feel about how they are paid, which has 5.4 times as much impact.”

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The researchers surveyed more than 500,000 workers for the report. Here are just a few of the findings, plus what companies can do to boost their success in the employee engagement department.

The older you get, the more likely you are to stay put at work

PayScale’s research found that employees ages 20-29 had an 8% higher chance of going on the job hunt again compared to those ages 40-49. The 30-39 year-olds were sandwiched in the middle of those two age brackets.

But as ages climb upward, people are far less likely to leave: Those 50-59 are 15% less likely to jump ship, while those 60+ are 50% less likely to.

Why people leave

PayScale found that “company outlook” had the biggest impact on “intent to leave employer,” (more than “appreciation,” “development” and others). The researchers found that someone who “strongly agreed” that their employer would be successful down the line is half as likely to aim to quit over the following six months than someone with a neutral perspective on this concept.

Someone who strongly thought the company wouldn’t succeed was 2.6 times more likely to leave compared to the neutral employee, the report found.

How companies can make employees feel more engaged at work

There are a variety of ways to do this.

Prioritize making workers feel like they matter

Making workers feel appreciated was just one of the takeaways of PayScale’s research.

It’s likely that employees would enjoy the benefits of having a heftier paycheck, but after citing things like “spot bonuses” and “merit-based pay increases” as ways to show workers appreciation, PayScale’s report makes it clear that money isn’t the only solution.

“Encourage managers in your organization to get into the habit of providing timely and positive feedback for a job well done. Employees need to regularly hear the message that their work is seen and valued. They need to understand, and feel that the company understands, how their work contributes to the company’s mission. Finding ways to convey appreciation can be a simple, cost-free way to increase employee satisfaction across the board,” the report says.

Don’t keep employees in the dark about their performance

Outside research has found that letting employees know how they’re doing in the office goes hand-in-hand with recognizing their work.

Giving workers positive feedback and chances to climb the corporate ladder can go a long way.

Don’t forget to encourage bonding

Tim Eisenhauer, Co-founder and President of Axero and a developer of Communifire, writes in Entrepreneur about how doing this can help employees feel more engaged.

“Having fun together not only breaks up the routine but also encourages creativity and collaboration. Sponsor a company softball tournament or host a monthly “dress-up day,” where employees can wear their ugliest sweater or sport a crazy hair color. Of course, management must also get in on the action, which further contributes to authenticity, visibility and communication,” he writes.

This article originally appeared Nov. 10, 2017.