The benefits of a happy workforce are huge, says Oliver Hurcum from Inspiring Interns. Here’s how to send your employees’ satisfaction through the roof.
Happy employees are productive workers, creative innovators, inspiring leaders, and strong team-players. In competitive industries where you desperately need to retain your talent, a high employee-satisfaction rate is a must.
While a generous pay cheque certainly goes some of the way to promoting happiness, money will only take you so far. As Professor Leonard Glick of Boston’s Northeastern University explains, competitive salaries may attract prospective employees to the company, but “once a deal has been struck the source of motivation tends to shift.”
Of course, it’s important to remember than you can only affect your employees’ moods so far; you don’t necessarily know what’s going on in their private lives and pressuring people to smile doesn’t help anyone. You should, however, do whatever you can to make your staff as happy as they can possibly be.
- Find out what makes them happy, then make it happen.
Not exactly a radical proposal, but a surprisingly easy one to overlook. It’s great to take inspiration from articles online on how to improve work-place happiness, but the authors of these articles don’t know your workforce personally.
Tailoring your work practices to the tastes of your employees further shows your willingness to listen and act on feedback, helping to make your staff feel valued.
- Encourage ownership
When employees feel like their projects are their own, they get great satisfaction when the job is done and often have fun along the way.
The easiest way to encourage employees to take ownership of their work is by stepping back and resisting the urge to micromanage. Show your employees that you trust them to get the work done and to a high standard.
- Show gratitude
A simple ‘thank you’ at the end of a project tells employees that you don’t simply take their work for granted.
You might want to express your gratitude quietly or follow the example of Gary Beasley, co-founder and CEO of Roofstock, who explains that his company does “periodic ‘shout outs’ to people at all levels of the organization for great work or superior effort. These kudos cost nothing but provide important public recognition for a job well done.”
- Go green
People feel better about themselves, their jobs, and the work they perform when they feel a connection to nature around them. Introduce some live green plants, let in as much natural light as possible, and provide time in the day for exercise and fresh air.
- Offer flexibility
The key to an employee’s happiness is a healthy work-life balance. You can help promote a sustainable balance by enabling them to work remotely from home or their local café, providing flexible hours and holiday leave, and making their family or (allergies dependent) even pets welcome into work.
- Offer variety
Even the most interesting task can become dull if it’s all you work on 24/7, and bored employees aren’t happy employees. Provide your workers with a variety of responsibilities to prevent their work from getting too repetitive and encourage them to spend their morning focussing on one task and their afternoon focussing on another.
For dull monotonous work that just has to be done, have people tackle the job in shifts.
- Be transparent
Failing to communicate with your employees makes them feel undervalued and detached from the company and their work. Indeed, a study conducted by Watson & Wyatt showed that organizations that communicate less effectively are more likely to have higher employee turnover levels, and similar studies have shown that poor communication can lead to higher rates of absenteeism, both signs of an unhappy workforce.
Make sure you keep your employees in the loop by offering regular meetings and informing them of both good and bad news.
- Provide training and development opportunities
Employees who are invested in their work usually want to improve their skillset and advance in their career. A lack of training and opportunities for promotion can be extremely frustrating for the ambitious.
If you’re unable to offer in-house training and development programs, you can always offer to pay for them to take training courses elsewhere.
- Keep it casual
People tend to do their best work surrounded by supportive, friendly peers in a relaxed, comfortable environment. It’s also important not to worry about your employees disengaging from their work every now and then – people can’t concentrate for hours at a time and a short rest will help them refocus.
Similarly, let your employees choose what they want to wear. If they’re not comfortable in a suit, they’re not going to do their best work in a suit. A causal dress-code tells them that what matters is their work, not their appearance, and shows you are prepared to treat them as adults rather than school children.
- Make tea
Knowing how your employees take their tea is an extremely simple way to show that you care about them and that you’re not aloof, proud, or superior.
It’s also a great way to express gratitude for the work they’ve done, and further shows that you appreciate how valuable their time is – you don’t expect them to have to put the kettle on for each other every day! Moreover, the benefits of a decent tea-break for morale are well documented.