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What do you love most about your work?

That’s a simple question, but you might be surprised that far-and-away the thing people love most about their work is the people they work with.

They still like the challenges their jobs provide, the learning opportunities they get, the contributions their work makes. But it’s their co-workers they enjoy most.

Please note that the answer wasn’t salary, or benefits, or company mission. It’s all about people.

That finding is from a year-long study by TINYpulse, a Seattle company that asks one question per week to solicit timely information that helps company executives know what their employees are thinking.

The survey results are comprised of more than 40,000 anonymous responses from individuals in 300 organizations and companies. The anonymity of the survey encourages candor and is in contrast to other surveys in which employees or managers know that their responses may be reviewed by executives.

In a listing of the top things that employees love about their jobs, leadership/executives ranked No. 10.

The implications of this are profound. The survey results suggest that every person in a company plays an important role in the health and happiness of a vibrant employee culture. That task is no longer relegated to the chief executive or to one’s manager.

The results show that just as each member of a football team plays a role in the success of the team, each employee means even more to team members than the manager does.

The TINYpulse survey also found that 44.3 percent of employees rank teamwork and collaboration as the most important factor when rating their co-workers. Knowledge and skills ranked second at 26.4 percent while attitude ranked third at 24.5 percent.

This is a strong message for executives and managers to screen and hire people who share these values in order to leverage a key asset of the company.

Another message of the survey findings is that employees want their voice to be heard by management. About 18 percent of the 40,000 survey participants offered suggestions for making their companies better or more efficient. TINYpulse says it is crucial for companies to consider and respond to these suggestions to keep the communication channels open for ideas that can come from anyone in the company.

One alarming finding is that only 42 percent of employees can identify their employer’s mission, vision, and values. Any executive should quickly respond to that figure, understanding that the company’s or organization’s goals can only truly be met if every employee is aware of its mission.

The anonymous survey also indicated that there is increased need for regular peer-to-peer recognition as companies decentralize. It no longer is enough for supervisors to give one-to-one appreciation to employees but that sharing that with co-workers enhances the value of the employee motivation tool.

There are probably other ways of parsing this survey’s findings, yet there is no denying that employees want to like and work with others whom they value. That’s an important lesson for the year ahead.

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