They call it work for a reason. But does it have to be? Why can’t work be a place you want to go, rather than a place that elicits a sense of dread even before the commute begins. Finding a place where you can happily hang your hat every day is an important aspect of the employment proposition – and sometimes elusive. In our job market research, less than 2 in 10 employees report that, without a doubt, they have found their workplace Shangri-la. Another 42% were perhaps a bit more realistic about their expectations, describing their workplace as somewhat ideal.  For employers looking to go from ‘meh’ to magnetic, here are four areas that employees of ideal workplaces (or close to it) had in common.


Grow, Baby, Grow

Professional growth and career advancement factor heavily in the employee perception of an ideal workplace.  Employees currently in an ideal workplace are over three times more likely to feel that they are constantly improving and progressing along their professional journey.   Our research found that these workers are significantly more likely to be offered a wide variety of training and development opportunities in a variety of learning formats and experiences. And when it comes to career progress, the majority of all those surveyed believe that an indicator of success is receiving a promotion or achieving some other type of advancement milestone every 1-2 years.  Companies who invest in a formalized approach to career pathing and training/development see tangible results. Year after year, our studies find that employees who feel like they work for a company that supports their growth are generally happier and are less likely to quit.  After compensation, better advancement opportunities and better growth potential are the next two most frequently cited reasons to make a job switch.


Culture Clique

Employees who find themselves in an ideal workplace report that they are happy with the culture they have found there. First, it aligns with the values they hold personally dear. Second, they report that the culture story they were sold matches the reality. Employees have told us that the most important features of culture include an employer’s authenticity; the company’s approach toward work/life balance; the attitude toward compensation; leadership’s approach to running the business; the direct supervisor relationship; and a company’s demonstrated commitment to professional development/improvement. Over the years our research has found that when employees click culturally, there’s a positive halo on their retention, job satisfaction, and the overall dedication to their work and their team.


Got Engagement?

Employees who say they have found employment nirvana are more likely to identify as extremely engaged at work by a factor of three. These are the employees who are willing to go the extra mile. They are usually the most proactive and productive members of the team. Often, they also serve as the biggest advocates of the employment brand. This, in turn, helps to attract talent of the same mindset, improving a company’s employee retention over the long term. Our research shows that low engagement is a leading indicator of employee flight. In our last study, nearly all non-engaged workers were planning to make a job jump in the near future.  What dynamics have the greatest impact on employee engagement? It’s no coincidence that they dovetail with the hallmarks of the ideal workplace. Topping the list of engagement drivers are a company’s demonstrated commitment to employee well-being and continuous professional growth, along with transparency and authenticity around what the company stands for and values.


Well, Well, Well

According to our study, nearly every employee that finds their workplace is practically (if not) perfect believes that their company cares about their well-being. These employees have a lower tendency for burnout and expressed high satisfaction with the benefits the company offers them. Notably, these employees tended to report a greater amount and variety of soft benefits and perks. Highly-valued entries on the benefits menu include the possibility of taking personal leave; summer hours or comp days; paternity leave; access to high-profile personnel; flex time or telecommuting options; and tuition reimbursement for higher or continuing education. Employers who are creating an ideal workplace don’t just say they care about employees; they put programs, procedures, and policies in place that show that they do.