After all the cards, flowers and chocolates have been consumed and news of engagements spread throughout the office on Valentine’s Day, most Americans will return to the reality of their jobs.

But loving one’s job is not just about earning a paycheck anymore — we can thank millennials and Generation Z for that. Today, employees are happier and more satisfied in the workplace than ever before.

Employees Love Transparency and Opportunities for Career Growth

The TINYPulse 2017 Employee Engagement Report gathered a million responses from anonymous U.S. employees to determine what they love about their jobs. The results show that organizational culture and the way peers interact are critical success factors. Where there is a lack of professional development and recognition, however, employee happiness and progress suffer. The survey found:

  • 79% of employees did not think their organization’s performance review process was very helpful.
  • 26% of employees saw adequate opportunities for career growth, while 50% of managers felt this way.
  • Half of employees believed their career path and promotions were clear, while 62% of managers believed the same.
  • 25% of employees felt management was being transparent, while 42% of managers think they’re an open book.
  • Only one in four employees felt valued at work, and nearly the same number feel connected to their peers.

TINYPulse also examined the factors that had the highest positive impact on employee happiness, and they found:

  • Intangible factors such as interpersonal relationships, culture and work environment contribute the most to employee happiness.
  • 61% of employees valued support from their organization toward their pursuit of personal and professional goals.
  • Transparency from management in terms of long-term opportunities, promotions and development are key to employee satisfaction.

Valentine’s Gifts from Employers

Now that we have a somewhat better idea of what makes us feel happiness at work, here are some of the ways that companies are making us fall in love with our careers again.

#1 – Paid Parental Leave

According to The Penny Hoarder, a growing number of companies offer generous parental leave policies. Many of the nation’s big technology and retail firms offer paid parental leaves that far extend past the federally mandated 12-week period.

For example, Adobe and Etsy offer 26 weeks of paid leave to new parents, while Netflix offers up to a year and IKEA provides up to four months of paid leave. As young families struggle to find that balance between work and childcare, the ability to have flexible paid time off when needed is a necessity.

#2 – Tuition Reimbursement Benefits

Employers know the value of an educated workforce, so it’s no surprise that some prefer that their employees be allowed to pursue their educational goals on solid financial footing. According to The Balance, several companies offer tuition reimbursement and paid courses.

The top companies for these benefits include Starbucks, which provides full reimbursement for bachelor’s degrees for U.S.-based, eligible employees who study online at Arizona State University online; UPS, which gives up to $25,000 in college expenses through its Learn and Earn program; and J.M. Smucker’s, which offers 100% tuition reimbursement for employees who complete approved college courses.

#3 – Flexible Work Arrangements

There was a time when nearly all workers were stuck with eight hours in a cubicle jungle. This is no longer the case, as we’ve learned to embrace other ways of getting our work accomplished without the confines of a brick and mortar space.

Now, more than ever before, Americans are loving their jobs because they can work from any place during hours that suit their personal schedule. FlexJobs released its annual 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs, which indicated that telecommuting is up by 11% as of last year, an increase of 52% over the last two years.

#4 – Transparency

American workers have spoken, and they demand greater transparency on topics including compensation, career development and financial wellness. According to PayScale, learning and development have risen to a similar level of significance for employers as they make the decision to leave or stay.

Nearly 58% of companies plan on increasing their employee development budgets this year, per PayScale’s 2016 Compensation Best Practices Report. Transparency regarding company culture also counts, since candidates have the ability to research this information on review sites before applying for work opportunities.

So there you have it. These are the factors that motivate and make employees love their jobs. Take them into account and make sure your company is addressing employees’ core concerns.

What do employees love about work? Professional development tops the list
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