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Emotional salary: an increasingly essential and intangible value

September 30, 2021

Flexibility in schedules and empathy in dealing with others’ considerations are some of the keys to paying what is priceless. Each employee’s ability to self-assess what motivates them and what their limits are.

“Work is no longer something separate from personal life. We spend part of the day sleeping; part with friends, family, on social media and watching television, etc., but most of the time is spent working”, says Maria Isabel “Marisa” Elizundia, born in Mexico and based in Madrid, creator of the Emotional Salary Barometer. And she reveals: “According to the latest statistics on this issue, 80 percent of people feel unhappy working. In other words, we must change how work is managed”.

Marisa is 53 years old, a specialist in Human Resources, and offers a revolutionary outlook. “The emotional salary is a shared responsibility between the company and the employee. In this framework, leaders are essential agents. The collaborator has to be considered from a holistic point of view. But in addition, they should know themselves enough to know their strengths, their needs for motivation, what they value ​​, and their limits. Many say, ‘I want more freedom,’ but can I administer it with enough discipline?”

It is not about “asking and getting it given to you” but about knowing our needs to grow. Therefore, Marisa believes communication is vital. “Work relations are something to work on constantly. It’s not like you take a pill and the problem is solved,” she adds.

The specialist sums up the possibility of designing tailor-made emotional salaries: “It is something unique for each individual and has to do with what is important for that person. Each designs their own and takes responsibility for what is important for them.”

On a concrete level, Marisa proposes the application of the emotional salary barometer, which allows for measuring what employees perceive they have in favor and what they lack. Among the factors to be analyzed are autonomy, a sense of belonging, creativity (the capacity to analyze problems from different perspectives), direction (that leaders think flexibly), enjoyment (promoting events so that employees can meet), inspiration, mastery (leaders recognizing their collaborators)―, personal growth (for positive traits and strengths), professional growth (through skills exchange sessions), and purpose (for the development of clear and reviewable objectives).

“Many factors, such as gender, education, geography, and culture, among many others, give a diversity of perspectives. It is important to understand that there are different ways of seeing the world and living one’s life, build from the experience and history of each one”, says Verónica Giménez, People Executive Director for Latin America at Globant.

“In that sense, ensuring spaces for visibility and listening is key to designing a strategy. Generate a culture that enhances autonomy and empowerment so that different people face proposals. Being able to build that culture by having the perspective from different scenarios is what allows us to build a policy that includes diversity”, she adds. In this sense, Globant’s Be Kind to Yourself Program stands out; it focuses on each employee’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being and includes sessions to stop smoking, mindfulness spaces, yoga classes, reiki, and days off, among other possibilities.

So how important is this emotional aspect in a job market looking to retain talent? “Very,” from Marisa’s point of view. “The economic salary will be significant, but the emotional salary will be differentiating. The money is there. The competition of the future will not be salary, but emotional salary—all taking into account that it is something changeable and adaptable. The growth of work from home due to the pandemic revealed this,” she states.

Giménez agrees: “I dare say that in the current labor market, meeting these needs and generating concrete initiatives is a fundamental axis for any company in the sector. Building an active listening structure is highly relevant to develop an organizational culture that enhances the best of each person. Nowadays, organizations are aware that generating a balance between personal and professional life is key”.

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Diversity, equity and inclusion are key to our business. Technology requires us to innovate constantly, and we can only achieve this if we bring together different points of view. Some of the areas we are working on include focusing on improving gender equality in our industry, inclusive hiring practices, and helping people to achieve a work-life balance.