The Rapid Learning Institute is in the training and workplace culture business. It offers the top 10 employee rewards and motivators. There are a few surprises along the way.

The list and some explanation:

  1. The paycheck: Surprised to see this at the top of the list? Conventional wisdom suggests that money isn’t the prime motivator for job satisfaction. Employee surveys support that view – compensation consistently ranks below other factors such as job security and interesting work.Don’t believe it. A review pointed out a key flaw in all of these studies: They reported what employees said, not what they did. The authors conclude that social pressure makes people downplay how much they care about money. They don’t want to think of themselves as money grubbers, and don’t want others to think of them that way. 

    Meanwhile, studies that looked at employee behavior found that pay incentives boost productivity by up to 30% and that compensation is the most important factor in whether someone will take a job.

  2. Appreciation: It’s easy to assume that people feel appreciated. After all, if they weren’t doing a good job, they’d hear about it, right? But the absence of criticism is not the same as praise. The manager’s role in acknowledging each person’s contribution is essential.
  3. Being in the know: Managers often view information from a “need to know” perspective. Of course, there are good reasons to keep some information closely held. But some managers withhold other information because they think it’s irrelevant to the employee’s particular job, and will only confuse or distract them. Not so. People need to see the big picture and know where they fit in.
  4. Understanding when the employee faces a crisis: Yes, some employees will try to take advantage by claiming personal emergencies on a regular basis. But every employee will likely face some legitimate personal crisis at some point. In that situation, a boss who’s understanding and willing to make some temporary adjustments will earn a huge loyalty bonus from the employee.
  5. Job security: Of course, no job is 100% secure. But employees need to know that, as long as they’re performing, managers will do all they can to secure their jobs. If a position is eliminated, for example, will the boss try to move the employee to another job, even if it requires a learning curve?
  6. Engaging work: Give people the opportunity to take on additional, interesting tasks. Employees will willingly take on these tasks in addition to their primary duties if it’s something that engages them.
  7. Growth opportunities
  8. Loyalty: Never allow yourself to trash talk or complain about an employee to their colleagues.
  9. Tactful discipline
  10. Fun: Yes, the job needs to get done. But people sometimes need to let off steam or have some fun.
Tom Schuman is the senior vice president of communications & operations for the Indiana Chamber. He is also the editor of the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine and has been with the organization for 20 years.