Many companies are battling it out to attract talent through better benefits. Some, like ping-pong tables or dog-friendly offices, make your company look fun -- everyone seems to think we want an Instagrammable office space.
Sure, we'll take it. But what employees need to know most is that you trust them to get the job done. Several studies have shown that autonomy is a huge factor in job satisfaction. Few people want to be micromanaged.
"Autonomy, specifically feeling one's ... skills were fully utilized, was the factor most predictive of satisfaction," reported one study of nurse practitioners' job satisfaction.
When planning your company's office space and benefits, including how to hype them in a job posting, think about how you can showcase that your company values employee autonomy. Here are some simple perks that I think show existing and potential employees you trust them.
Unlimited sick days.
The fear with this perk, of course, is that employees will lie about being sick. That's why offering it is a great sign of trust. It says you hire honest employees and, in turn, value their wellbeing.
You can always require a doctor's notice for extended absences to be cautious, but if you build trust into your culture, you shouldn't need to nickle and dime employees for a day off when they're overcome by a cold or allergies.
The verdict is in on remote work: It has a positive effect on productivity and can reduce company costs. But you have to trust your employees to get their work done without being watched.
Most workers I know who have the opportunity to work remotely at least part of their workweek take advantage of it. I love it. Working at home lets me set up my day in a way that works for me, instead of organizing it around being presentable for the office, spending eight hours there and punching out at the end of the day.
Do I take a longer lunch break when I work from home? Usually. And I take yoga breaks or walks I wouldn't take from the office. But I'm still more productive, because I can better focus without anyone to stop by my desk twice an hour or catch me at the coffee machine for 15 minutes. My employer just trusts I can get work done with this flexibility.
Unlimited vacation days.
This perk, which sounds like a dream to an American worker, is quite controversial. "Unlimited" vacation time can often lead to employees taking no vacation time, because of pressure to perform.
This one requires trust in both directions. Employees have to trust their managers won't hold vacation time against them, and managers have to trust employees will take vacation responsibly. Psychologically, you might see better results with a more traditional PTO policy, but the implicit message of trust could go a long way with the right approach.
Forget the coffee machine... the coolest offices now attract the coolest talent with a snack fridge stocked with complimentary beer, wine and trendy booze. Some folks work better when they can look forward to a glass of pinot during that looming 4 p.m. meeting.
It's generally unspoken that binge drinking in the office would be unacceptable. But offering the perk to your employees is certainly a sign that you trust them not to overdo it -- and to keep up their best work, even under the influence.