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Is A Salary Still Enough to Keep Employees Happy?

Base salary on its own is not enough to make Swiss employees happy, as we are now seeing at many companies. A good salary is no longer seen as a good enough reason to feel happy and fulfilled in your job. This means that employers need to find new ways to motivate and attract employees in order to keep them, and keep them happy.

1) New Motivating Factors for Swiss Employees

For Swiss employees, salary is no longer in the top three criteria for happiness at work. The scale has tipped in favour of other motivating factors related to well-being and personal fulfilment, as well as professional relationships. As recently as 2016, Willis Towers Watson surveyed 400 Swiss employees who ranked salary as the second-most important factor, while a Deloitte study from 2019 demonstrates a clear shift in priorities. To be happy at work, employees want competent managers, clearly defined responsibilities and relationships based on respect and trust. Priorities are different in countries like Germany and France, where salary is still a major factor, perhaps due to the more favourable job market in Switzerland with lower unemployment and higher average income. We have also observed a generational shift. Job security and upward mobility are key for under-35s, perhaps due to their young age and fear of instability. On the other hand, for over-55s, happiness at work depends primarily on how useful their job is and how well it aligns with their personal values.

2) Employees’ Financial Well-being: Still a Key Issue for Employers

Employers should still take their employees’ financial stability seriously. If money problems and tight ends of the month take over, they can negatively affect your employees’ productivity and mental health. A Barclays study demonstrated that financial stress leads to a 4% loss in profitability for employers. According to the 2018 Workforce View in Europe survey, 15% of Swiss employees worry about money, and so the case may be among your employees.
In addition to base salary, benefits programmes and rewards contribute to employee satisfaction and motivation, but only if your employees fully understand these benefits and how they can be adapted to their needs. This is a major issue, however, because many employees are not aware of the additional benefits to which they have access, to the extent that they do not take full advantage of them and are not aware of the efforts that the company is making to support them financially. To address this problem, the employer must use a sufficiently clear communication strategy that highlights the rewards and benefits provided to employees and explains how they work. This should begin with recruitment and continue throughout the career in order to be efficient and ensure that employees understand all of their compensation: salary, gifts, discounts and additional benefits.

3) Developing an Attractive Benefits Programme

Since salary is no longer the holy grail, companies need to find better ways to motivate employees and boost their purchasing power in other ways. Just as the way we work is changing with home offices and flexible hours, compensation must adapt to these new circumstances and include a selection of benefits and other compensation beyond salary. Contributing to transportation, meals or education, attractive professional or health insurance, permanent discounts with major brands… there are many possibilities, as long as you make your benefits system customisable so that it works for each employee. Your flexible, tax-free benefits package adds substantial value to base salaries. It will improve both your employees’ daily financial well-being and their long-term commitment to the company.

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