Fairness is what matters most, and successful businesses think creatively about how to show that everyone is treated fairly. Pay raises for the best performers is an obvious way to show that hard work is rewarded, but there are less tangible ways that people can measure their own success and accomplishments.
"What people really want beyond being paid enough and being paid fairly is meaningful work," Gardner says. "The more volatile the world is, the more people are turning inward to seek a sense of purpose and meaning in their work."
Offering training is one way to sate this desire, but so are other rewards, like logistical and intellectual autonomy, Gardner says. "Time is probably the most precious resource."
Logistical autonomy can simply come in the form of an employer offering workers more flexibility in their schedules so they can catch their children's soccer games.
Intellectual autonomy, on the other hand, is more nebulous and is exemplified by companies like Google, which lets its employees set aside a significant portion of their work week to think about their jobs, their company, and how they can improve both.
Gardner also pointed to herself and other business school professors as evidence that this kind of freedom can matter more than money. Many business school professors leave lucrative private-sector positions behind to spend five years or more in graduate school, only to be followed by starting lower-paying academic jobs. But these professors won the freedom to research what they are passionate about in return.
Finally, one of the best and most cost-effective ways to let employees know they are valued is to tell them. Gardner says that working with employees to develop plans and set goals, then giving them constructive feedback along the way, can create a sense of attachment that money can't buy.
"Good management is not free, but it's pretty cost effective compared to handing out cash, which doesn't buy anyone's loyalty for very long," she says.
When Belsky discusses transparency at Behance as a tool to retain employees, he's not just talking about sharing the details of the company's income statement. He works with every employee to set goals and develop new skills. True, the "long-term greedy" quality he refers to is about the financial success of the company, but it is also about giving each employee the chance to play a role in building the business.
"In tough times, when businesses are trying to keep a team engaged with projects, transparency is key; setting goals and milestones together is vital," Belsky says. "The experience that we are gaining together, it should augment pay."