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Business professionals consider employee benefits key to happiness

When business professionals are on the hunt for a new job, all kinds of factors play into their final decision. Salary is a big one, as well as location, job security and opportunities for advancement. But according to a recent business research poll by ProOpinion, most business professionals - 66 percent, to be exact - consider the right health benefits one of the most important ways to make employees happy.

This means that the health benefits your company is offering will directly affect who's interested in working for you. Having admirable goals and the ambition to develop future leaders were two other important keys to happiness, with 20 percent and 18 percent, respectively, of business professionals choosing them. But how else can you ensure that your workers remain loyal, productive and satisfied at your company? Here are some suggestions for creating job benefits that your employees will appreciate.

Offer more flexibility
Flexibility in the workplace is one of the biggest emerging business trends. More employees than ever are asking questions about vacation time, telecommuting and personalized schedules once they get past the initial interviews and are seriously considering a job offer. Extending these benefits to your employees is a great way to encourage a work-life balance that will keep stress in check and boost productivity during working hours. If you're worried about offering employees the option to work from home or make a few changes to their daily schedule, set specific guidelines that need to be followed in order to retain the privilege.

"Online education, management training and company-specific policy training are just a few ways to educate your workers."

Provide training and learning opportunities
Most employees will jump at the chance to learn new skills that will help them advance their careers, so do them a favor by offering these opportunities. Entrepreneur magazine pointed to online education, management training or company-specific policy training as options to consider when deciding how to educate your workers. Not only does your company reap the benefits of a more capable workforce, but your employees will appreciate the fact that you're taking an interest in their careers and giving them the tools they need to succeed.

Ensure transparency and good communication
If employees feel like they're informed about the state of the company, they'll be a lot happier not having to worry about what's going to happen in the near future and knowing they are considered a valuable asset to the company.

"Things that managers take for common knowledge about how things are going or what challenges are down the road or what new products are coming … they often don't take the time to share that with their employees," Leonard J. Glick, professor of management and organizational development at Boston's Northeastern University, told Forbes magazine.

It's also important to encourage communication between your employees. Business News Daily stressed the importance of making common rooms comfortable, inviting and effective by offering nice furniture, tables, snacks and beverages. Employees will be more likely to open up and share ideas with their co-workers if they feel like they're in a casual setting.

Encourage health beyond insurance
Offering decent health care coverage is one thing, but your company can go above and beyond by implementing wellness programs that make it easier for employees to stay healthy. U.S. News & World Report gave a few examples of what some companies are doing to promote wellness, like offering monthly reimbursements for nutrition counseling or fitness classes, providing health trackers or even starting programs to motivate employees to drink more water. All of these efforts show employees that you care about their well-being and are willing to help them meet their fitness goals.

Wellness programs show employees you care about their well-being and support their fitness goals.Wellness programs show employees you care about their well-being and support their fitness goals.

Recognize a job well done
Everyone likes to be congratulated for good work, so don't hold back when it comes to thanking your employees for all the effort they put into their projects. A simple "Thank you" is often enough to make a big difference to an employee, whether it's in-person, in an email or in a sincere, handwritten note. Public recognition is also important for some employees, so consider mentioning people's great achievements at meetings or sending a company-wide email to point out someone who exceeded expectations. Entrepreneur stressed the importance of customizing the rewards for the people who earn them. A one-size-fits-all 10-year anniversary mug or a generic birthday cake won't make very big impacts. Tailor your celebrations to your employees and they'll feel respected, valued and appreciated for their individuality.

Take an interest in each individual
Keep in touch with all of your employees if possible by having regular one-on-one conversations about how they're doing. A quick phone call or meeting is sufficient, but smaller companies might benefit more from personalized interactions, like heading out to grab lunch or getting a drink after work. This will encourage your employees to stay engaged at work and take pride in what they're doing.

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