When an employer thinks about compensating employees, a variety of things usually come to mind. Wages are the main focus, then benefits like health insurance or a tool allowance, and so on.

Very rarely will your employees tell you that all the above is fine and good but there is something missing. It seems silly to your folks to bring it up because they feel they shouldn’t have to. They feel you should know what it is.

What am I talking about? Your attention to them.

Yes, you have work-related discussions, focused on problems, results and deadlines. When those interactions occur they are about what you all need to do to get the job done.

What your people really want is conversations with you about their lives.

Where were each of your employees born? What were their childhoods like? How many siblings did they have? What did they love to do as a child?

When did they decide on their profession? Why do they like to do what their jobs entail? What is the biggest challenge they have ever overcome at work?

What are their dreams? What would they do if...?

And so on.

Ask questions like these, and then ask followup questions, like “Tell me more,” and “How did you do that?”

If you do this and you truly listen to their answers, your employees will love you for doing so. After all, you are giving them your attention independent of what they do at the company.

When the next formal compensation review happens, it will be less stressful for all because you have made investments in your employees’ emotional bank accounts.

So give them what they want and never ask for. After all it just takes a bit of your time and your complete attention.