Google leadership coach: The best way to attract high-performing employees doesn't cost a dime

More workers search for ‘meaning’ rather than higher pay, author says

Free meals, dog-friendly workplaces and other fun perks are becoming increasingly common at companies trying to attract top talent.

But according to Google leadership development advisor Fred Kofman, there is still one thing that more companies need to offer — and it doesn't cost a dime.

"Any company that can provide a sense of meaning, purpose and happiness will be able to attract great talent," Kofman tells CNBC Make It.

Kofman, who previously worked in executive development at LinkedIn and is the author of new book "The Meaning Revolution," coaches Google executives on being more adaptable, innovative and inspiring for the teams they lead.

In his book, Kofman says people "need to be inspired to contribute their best toward the organizational goals," yet over two-thirds of workers are disengaged at work. He argues that people don't just want bigger paychecks; they want to feel their work has purpose.

Although most employers help their workers meet their basic human needs — food, shelter, safety and health — Kofman says they need to do more, for both their employees' sake and their investors' sake.

"If you just pay [workers], you're going to get the minimum discretionary effort; they'll just work for the pay," Kofman said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday. "But if you want them to pour their hearts and souls, you need to give them more."

More workers search for ‘meaning’ rather than higher pay, author says

Today's professionals in the U.S. are "generally doing economically okay," Kofman says. But as they make more money and material benefits become more commonplace — such as medical insurance, 401k matching contributions and paid time off — workers want companies to invest in non-material benefits as well.

"We're talking about better colleagues, better work culture, more autonomy, more camaraderie around the office, not just a cool recreational room or free snacks," Kofman says. "At some point, even great material benefits will get to the point of satiation, but the desire to grow professionally, find meaning in your life and feel happier can be limitless."

Other non-material benefits that don't have a price tag include creating an inspiring workplace for employees, offering personal development and ensuring growth opportunities.

"That all adds up to a sense of purpose and a sense of pride for working in a place that is recognized for its goodness," Kofman says.

Companies that are already succeeding at providing their employees with a greater sense of purpose include Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, Kofman notes, but you don't need to work at a big company to seek out meaning and purpose through your work.

"Demand that your company provide a meaningful project for you to engage in and don't compromise," Kofman says. "You have the right to work at a place where you can grow, find meaning and have a significant impact on the world."

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