For years, we’ve been told that money can’t buy happiness. Nevertheless, when the employment negotiations begin, salary is usually on everyone’s mind. Increasingly though, the latest generation of workers admits to looking for more than just a paycheck. In fact, the key to a satisfied workforce often means focusing on benefits and perks that don’t come attached with dollar signs. In the end, the driving force behind many job seeker’s employment decisions involves a combination of fulfillment and autonomy.

Culture and Values
A recent survey by Glassdoor revealed that the No. 1 predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay, but is the culture and values espoused by the employer. Superior leadership at top levels of management along with career opportunities also was ranked high. At the bottom of the list? Compensation and traditional benefits.

So how do you cultivate the type of work environment that improves morale and positively impacts productivity and retention? It starts with micromanagement, or to be more precise, ditching the scrutiny for a little more freedom and independence. Workers increasingly indicate they feel most satisfied with their job when they are empowered to make critical business decisions. While training and continued support from management are essential, in many ways, employees want to be trusted.

Trust can also lead to a feeling of job security, which in turn reduces stress. While no worker expects to keep their position for life, uncertainty can destroy initiative and trigger a wave of low morale that will ultimately hurt productivity and lead to increased staff turnover. Trust also means allowing your employees to speak their mind. While many companies brag about their “open door policies,” in truth, it’s easy to let a wall build up between management and staff. The boss should be respected, but employees must also feel able to ask for advice, point out areas of improvement, and feel free to make mistakes.

Pride and Privacy
The best employees feel proud of their work. The ability to boast about the company you work for and the amazing accomplishments of its staff provide workers with a sense of ownership: They feel like they have a stake in whether or not your company succeeds. Eschewing favoritism and prioritizing praise for a job well done can also extend employee satisfaction.

Many companies like to talk about a “work-home balance,” and while no boss ever wished his employees worked less, it’s important to acknowledge that real life exists outside the cubicle. Flexible schedules and the ability to take time off as needed can help your staff meet its responsibilities on the job without worrying about when they can fit in some of their real life responsibilities.

What Matters Most
While the paycheck can get an employee in the door, keeping them there means offering more than just a job. As workplace culture becomes a more vital aspect of job satisfaction, employers will need to look beyond the salary when it comes to boosting morale and creating a positive – and productive – workforce.