When you think of awesome employee perks, what comes to mind? Do you think of Google offering massages and free gourmet meals? Expansive on-site gyms? A game room serving popcorn and beer? If so…think again.


Researchers at Kansas State University and the University of Missouri’s Novak Leadership Institute have brought us some interesting new insights. As it turns out, young employees (millennials between the ages of 21 and 34) don’t care as much about these tangible benefits as they do about how they’re treated. Essentially, that expensive on-site experience may not do as much for retention as proper training for managers in communication and nurturing well-being.

The study found that there are two types of respect that employees experience: respectful engagement and autonomous respect. Respectful engagement refers to respect that is bound by your work performance, and autonomous respect deals with respect that goes beyond the job description. Autonomous respect means an employee feels respected for who they are beyond work. While both types are important, the study found that autonomous respect was much more meaningful to employees (and this remained true across all industries).

Danielle Lagree, the researcher who led the study, says that previous studies have found that managers aren’t properly trained in leadership, and this can have severe implications. There needs to be more focus on training managers in leadership and communication, and managers should be more focused on truly getting to know their employees, not just their work style and strengths.


Practically, this has important implications for employers everywhere. Ask your employees what they value, truly listen to them and get to know them beyond the job, and make sure to nurture their well-being.

The good news? We help you do all of this through our wellness programs. The process starts with an employee survey to find out what kinds of classes they value. We design a program accordingly and this lets participants know their employers support their whole-person wellness, not just their job title.