Employee happiness is one of the most important factors for worker retention, office efficiency, creativity and willingness to go the extra mile for the company when it’s required. To help keep workers smiling and working at their highest level, we’ve compiled a list of 6 steps you can take to keep your employees happy and loving their job.
Create a sense of community
Few things crush productivity as fast as the feeling that you’d rather be anywhere other than the office (or working at home). Developing a sense of community between colleagues and open communication about work and non-work activities can take time, but they are absolutely worth the effort. Schedule short community building activities in the office, or even after hours to help make workers feel like they are part of something more. If you can make work seem less like a chore and more like a chance to prove yourself and develop friendships, productivity will increase and the flow of ideas may even accelerate.
Promote a healthy work/life balance
Promoting a healthy work/life balance is crucial, with many employees reporting this is a top concern in their career. Very few people are comfortable with work consuming their entire day, so when projects require long hours be sure to reward employees with appropriate schedule leniency or extra time off when possible. This topic is different for everyone, so it may require directly asking each employee how they feel about their balance between work and non-work life. Poor work/life balance is a top reason for workers to seek other opportunities, so regular communication and questions about job satisfaction can be extremely beneficial for retention.
Offer room for growth
When a great employee comes along, the last thing you want is to lose them over a stagnant position or salary. Keeping your opportunities competitive and well-advertised to workers is a great way to show that you value the work they are doing and are eager to recognize standout performance. Consequently, it can be disheartening for seasoned employees to see a senior position filled by an outsider if there are well-qualified candidates within the company. Even though not everyone can become a manager, showing the team that it’s possible to move up and be recognized is important in any organization.
Give workers autonomy
Whether individually or in teams, limiting micromanagement can make workers feel more trusted, free up more of their time and help lead to stronger bonds between workers. Many workers report that they prefer doing unsavory work to being micromanaged on something they enjoy doing. Setting a timeline for expected updates can often be sufficient for maintaining progress and project oversight, but managers also should not hesitate to apply pressure when employees fall behind schedule or diverge from the project’s parameters or goals. Vocalizing the trust and responsibility aspect can be powerful as well, because it shows workers that the company’s success, as well as their own success, is in their hands.
Streamline meeting schedules
Study after study has shown that after 30-45 minutes, the productivity of most meetings drops drastically. People get bored, distracted by other pressing work, or simply become overloaded with new information. Some meetings must be longer by necessity, but many simple project updates and planning sessions can be shortened. Of course, this is different for every company and every project. For instance, it may be better to have two 20-minute meetings each week instead of one hour-long meeting. This also allows for more consistent updates and greater opportunity to save time when errors are made or needs change throughout a project. Once again, workers will be happier when they are viewed as crucial to a project and when they know they are appreciated for consistent progress and new ideas.
Set clear priorities, goals and responsibilities
Nothing raises a team’s collective blood pressure quite like a massive change in focus on a project with a lot of man-hours already invested, or a team member who is missing the mark on their responsibilities. Whether the blame rests on miscommunication, poor planning, mismanagement or an outside force beyond the team’s control, the problem can be solved by ensuring that any missed deadlines are addressed and problems are fixed immediately. It can often be as simple as a 20- to 30-minute phone call or meeting each week on a long-term project. When a project’s direction does have to be changed, which can be unavoidable, acknowledge that management is as unhappy about it as everybody else. Empathy can go a long way toward relieving frustration and getting the team’s happiness back on track.