The benefits of a happy staff are obvious and self-evident. Aside from the numerous studies that link employee happiness to greater productivity in the workplace a fact that any disgruntled employee could have told you for free an unhappy workforce simply makes for a miserable environment.
While misery may love company, companies do not reciprocate the feeling. A despondent staff can be exhausting to interact with and low energy in their output.
Clear objectives and vision for business: While in a perfect world everyone would work to his or her fullest capabilities every day, life does not work this way. Often, the eternal recurrence of day-in day-out repetition traps employees in a Kafkaesque nightmare of meaningless drudgery.
Psychologists will tell you that well-defined goals engender a more disciplined work ethic. Defined goals provide employees with a sense of purpose and allow them to understand how their work contributes to the final product or service.
Work without context feels aimless and ultimately alienates the individual from the team and vision they should feel proud to be part of.
Transparency: Just as you should be upfront about the goals and vision of the company, you should also be transparent about the state of the company. According to an employee survey from TinyPulse, transparency is the “No. 1 contributor to employee happiness…”
Stressing over rumors of layoffs or fears of economic downturn only serve to disrupt an employee’s focus. Even if the only news you have to share is bad news, be honest. The result will be much better than the anxiety and passive aggression likely to arise from an uninformed and frightened staff.
Help employees define their professional narrative: Given the high mobility of younger employees, jumping from company to company, mentorship might seem like a relic of the distant past, but this is not true. If you work to build your employees, they will work harder for you. Loyalty breeds loyalty.
Help your employees see how the work they do benefits them. Whether this means asking them about their five-year plan over lunch or discussing with them possible next steps after they out-grow their current role, these discussions will alleviate any doubt about the meaning of their work in their own lives and the purpose they should feel doing it.
Allow employees to make their own schedule: The monotony of the 9 to 5 workday is unnecessary and old fashioned. Allowing your employees to make their own hours, and judging them not by time served but by productivity, will give your employees a rewarding sense of freedom.
Many progressive companies, such as Netflix, have adopted make your own schedule policies and research shows that allowing employees to do so increases productivity.
Work from home option: With most office jobs being computer-based nowadays, offering a work from home option to your employees is a great way to boost happiness. The trick here is to make sure that all employees have the same benefit, as those who do not receive the option to work from home are sure to become disgruntled.
Also, keeping it an option is best, as some people (likely more extroverted people) will not like the isolation of working from home, while others (likely more introverted people) will thrive outside the office.
It’s the little things.
Cut back on meetings: While meetings are a vital part of any organization facilitating communication and a free exchange of ideas too many meetings, or meetings without structure, can bog down the workday and waste time.
The good news is that keeping your employees happy is not an impossible feat. Aside from the common sense things, like growth opportunities, good benefits, clear communication and recognizing employee success, there are a few other moves you can make to keep your employees smiling and working hard.
- Put it in writing
A handwritten thank-you to your direct reports, colleagues or boss can be more meaningful than an email. Such an effort requires some stationery, a little extra time to craft and deliver, but is often appreciated by the recipient. Employers need to promote a positive culture that includes recognition and feeling appreciated to attract and retain great people.
- Conduct a teambuilding event
It could be a friendly Academy Awards or March Madness competition, an off-site volunteer event, or ropes course. Such activities can help staff learn more about their coworkers and boost morale in the workplace. Make sure it’s presented as optional or that there’s something for everyone; not everyone may be a movie buff or sports fan.
- Enjoy each Moment
Celebrating coworkers’ milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers or good work can build comradery and bring employees together, especially if it’s for a good cause. Be clear that contributions are voluntary, and remember that happiness comes from more than just a free lunch or annual holiday party. If people don’t feel valued by your firm, these perks won’t make much of a difference.
“The key for managers is to express gratitude and to be really specific about the particular effort the employee made,” Carter says, “because that’s when people feel seen and recognized.”
- Ask for inspiration
There’s no secret ingredient to increasing happiness levels in the office. What works for a small CPA firm might not fly at a larger organization. Sure, you have to pay people well, but creating a great place to work where employees have pride in what they do begins with you.
Unless you’re a mind reader, you’ll never know what instills pride and motivation in your employees, until you ask. Then, follow through. Follow-up on that feedback and empower your employees to create a better workplace.
- Give them a sense of empowerment
Engaging your staff by giving them a chance to make decisions on their own, or with minimal direction, improves workplace happiness by making them feel more valued. Let them flex their creative muscles and influence important decisions in their jobs.