There is one four-letter word too often used to explain work: Hate.

Not only is this four-letter word one that many argue should be stripped from the English language because of the negativity and ill-will it conjures, but it’s also a four-letter word that demolishes the hopes of a long-term positive and productive work culture.

As most who have ventured into the workforce know, feeling valued is part of a healthy work environment. If you don’t feel valued at work, the place you work chips away at your sense of purpose, sense of loyalty, and feeling of fulfillment. These losses— purpose, loyalty, fulfillment— are difficult to recoup, which is an issue since they’re essential to a successful business, one that both retains and attracts employees.

Companies striving for long-term success need to understand an important truth: Invest in your employees to invest in your clients.

One place that epitomizes this is Costco. This company pays an average of $20.89 an hour, which is 65% more than its direct competitor, Walmart, pays its employees. Costco’s higher payroll is a small price to pay when considering what Costco saves by showing their employees they are valued. With the higher pay and countless other ways Costco expresses their appreciation for and value of their employees, they experience a low turnover rate among employees who work at least a year, approximately 5%. With a turnover rate near 5%, they save several hundred million dollars each year, specifically in the areas of recruitment and training.

As the article Why You Hate Work from The New York Times says: A truly human-centered organization puts its people first— even above customers— because it recognizes that they are the key to creating long-term value.

That’s powerful.

Ask yourself why you choose one car dealership over another, why you prefer to only see one specific doctor, why you’ll wait in-line for your hairdresser when Supercuts can get you in and out in 15 minutes, or why you preferred one apartment complex over another. The answer is often the same: Choices of services and products are often guided by how our interaction obtaining that service or product makes us feel.

If, as a consumer, we make choices based on how a business makes us feel, then that means the employees working with us need to be positive, knowledgeable and above all else, happy to work with us and for their place of employment. How can companies make an employee walk into work with a positive attitude, a happy demeanor, and ready to learn, you ask?

Answer: You make them feel valued and cultivate their sense of purpose.

Research shows that “employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met.”

1. PHYSICAL- offer opportunities to recharge at work

2. EMOTIONAL- make employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions

3. MENTAL- give opportunities for employees to focus on tasks and define when and where they get their work done

4. SPIRITUAL- encourage employees to do what they enjoy and are talented at and help them connect their work to a feeling of purpose

Gone are the days of an employee being satisfied and loyal simply because they receive a paycheck. In are the days of employees who need to feel valued to stay committed and to bring their best selves to work every day.

This can be overwhelming for companies, but that’s not an acceptable excuse. Employees who feel they’re not valued end up feeling devalued. That’s not a workforce that a company is likely to excel with long-term. There are teams, such as The Jellison Group, who are dedicated to transforming work culture. Companies do not have to push people into meetings, close the blinds, and make those people, who have no experience reshaping company culture, think of a plan that has little likelihood of success. There are teams dedicated, educated, and passionate about reshaping a company’s work culture. Companies need to invite those teams in and let them take the lead with this specific endeavor. This allows companies the ability to focus on their mission, their day-to-day and their future, all things fully in their wheelhouse to tackle successfully.

These days, the bottom line is less about dollars and cents and more about employees feeling valued and customers enjoying the energy and passion valued employees exude. When the four-letter word enters the workforce, there’s one popular phrase from the Apollo 13 spaceflight that seems to sum up the situation perfectly: Houston, we have a problem.

Author: Evelyn Lindell