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How to speak your employees' love languages

When a right swipe in the dating world progresses to a lasting relationship, "love languages" are often used to gauge compatibility and learn how the other party prefers to receive love. In the workplace, the relationship you have with your employees is, well, a relationship too. If you're reading this, it's safe to assume you're wishing to go the long haul.

Our recent research shows that the connection between employers and employees is rocky. Employers think they are fulfilling employees' needs, but employees don't quite feel the love. If you learn their "love languages," you can better understand what matters most, put these relationships on more solid ground, improve employee experience, and give your employees reasons to stick around.

infographic of text headers

1. Follow through on feedback

Eighty-one percent (81%) of leading employers surveyed said they always or sometimes take corrective action on employee feedback, but 35% of employees surveyed are less than satisfied with how their employers respond. More specifically:

Women (61%) and non-white employees (59%) are significantly less satisfied than men and white employees

Overall, only 65% are satisfied with their employer's asking for employee feedback in the first place

How to address it: Responding and listening to feedback is critical, as a lack of equity in the workplace can lead workers to seek opportunities elsewhere. When introducing new policies or revising current ones, make sure your actions aren't just paying lip service. Give employees "words of affirmation" to show that you value their input and take it seriously.

2. Commitment to truth and transparency

In online dating, a profile photo is likely the first chance to impress. How your company looks to employees and the rest of the world is similar. Our report found that 69% of employees want to work for a brand they are proud to support. Transparent communication is a big driver of employee satisfaction at work.

Other things employees value and that increase their likelihood to recommend their workplace include:

How the company communicates with and presents itself to the public


Employee engagement

Senior leadership

Unfortunately, only 66% of employees reported being satisfied with their employers' internal and external transparency efforts. Employees can tell when the vibes are off.

How to address it: Don't hide the details that your employees say matter most, and take a stand on topics that affect them and the community beyond your workplace in a way that makes them proud to work for your company.

3. Acts of vulnerability and inclusivity

It bears repeating that employee experience is about much more than perks and ensuring that your teams are having a pleasant time at work. While receiving gifts may be a traditional love language, it takes more than that to win an employee over. It's also about how supported employees feel during stressful times and how they're treated compared with their peers.

A whopping 90% of employers with leading or above average employer brands say their employee experience is a big part of their employer brand. But among employers that are just getting started with employer branding, only 54% say the same.

There's an opportunity for some companies to warm up to the idea that they could keep more talent if they broke down the walls that keep them from being more open and authentic.

They can take the lead of strong employers by:

Creating safe and inclusive environments for their teams

Building a psychologically safe environment

How to address it: When it comes to this love language, think "Acts of Service." Perhaps it's time to rally managers and train them on how to support employees on an emotional and psychological level. Look for ways to create safe spaces for employees that positively recognize and celebrate cultural differences and individuality.

4. Fair pay and better benefits

Fair pay and better benefits are less of a "love language" and more of a basic, foundational necessity and right. Our study shows that 81% of employees want their employer to pay employees fairly and equitably, but only 66% are satisfied. That shows there's room for improvement.

When it comes to compensation, think of pay and benefits as part and parcel of a healthy total compensation package. And there's also ample room for growth. Seventy-five percent of employees want their employer to support employee wellness with great benefits, but only 65% are satisfied.

How to address it: Keep in mind that in the era of remote work, what's considered a great benefit has changed. The occasional sponsored office lunch and basic gym membership coverage will hardly do. Focus on offering employees benefits that make them feel cared for and allow them to manage their health better. Consider offering flexible and comprehensive health benefits, ergonomic office equipment, and flexible work hours in your efforts to make the employee experience a healthy and sustainable one.

Take our research as one large employee feedback form. While building a strong employer branding strategy has many languages to cover, it can truly be a labor of love. Ideally, these results will inspire and help you to take action. Just be sure to follow through.

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