In today’s economic atmosphere, it’s very important to focus attention on employee satisfaction. Keeping your employees happy can encourage company loyalty, improve productivity, and help them stay more engaged in the mission of the organization. Some studies have also shown that engaged employees miss fewer days, support change, and perform at higher levels. On the flip side, unhappy employees can drag the office morale down and cause the company to suffer.
It’s no secret that keeping employees happy will also help to keep them around. Those who feel satisfied and appreciated typically don’t look elsewhere for other opportunities. However, it’s not easy to know what will make each employee happy. Happiness and overall satisfaction come from within, although there are factors that employers can contribute to encourage a positive work environment.
Help employees feel valued
The first step in encouraging happiness among employees is making sure they feel valued for the work they do and what they contribute to the team. If something goes wrong or someone makes an error, avoid punishing the team member involved, and instead focus on making it a learning opportunity. Offer encouragement and additional training or coaching if needed. Punishment or singling someone out can cause embarrassment, which could make the employee lash out. They could even make additional mistakes or act out to punish the company for what they perceive as unfair treatment.
It’s also important to make your team members feel that they are more than just employees. Each person has passions, hobbies, and other aspects of their personal life that they might like to talk about, so ask questions and take the time to get to know them. Don’t overstep professional boundaries, but asking friendly questions about family members, pets, hobbies, and other aspects of someone’s personal life can help them feel more valued.
Don’t forget that employees are human beings dealing with challenges of their own. You could notice decreased productivity only to learn that your employee is struggling with depression or other mental health issues. Helping people to get the resources they need can help improve productivity and show your employees that you truly care about them as people.
Set clear expectations
It’s hard to encourage a positive work atmosphere if your employees don’t know what to expect or get mixed messages from various members of the management team. When you want to have happy employees, you need to make sure they understand the expectations, rules, and boundaries. When an employee receives a task, how will it be communicated? Who will communicate the details of the task, and where does it need to go when they finish? With clear expectations, your employees will also have a better understanding of what they need to accomplish.
It’s also important to maintain consistency across the board. If employees in one department are constantly taking long lunches, management must step in and correct the issue to keep employee morale high. Feeling slighted or that others get unfair advantages can cause employees to become bitter. If you don’t have an employee handbook that outlines policies and procedures, create one and make sure every member of the team reviews it.
Encourage open communication and transparency
When employees feel like they’re left out of the loop or ignored on important decisions that affect their work, it’s hard to for them to stay positive. Companies that have open communication policies tend to have more satisfied employees who feel like they’re involved in the operations of the business. If you do establish or improve your company’s communication policy, make sure to take the feedback to heart and do what you can to make improvements that employees recommend.
In addition to offering transparency and communication options between leaders and employees, employers should look for ways to improve communication between team members as well. Offer collaboration spaces throughout the office where teams can get away from their desks and share ideas. Even the break room can become a space to collaborate if you make it more inviting, so add tables, comfortable chairs, drinks, and snacks.
Give recognition and rewards
Offering praise, recognition, and rewards to employees doesn’t have to cost a lot. Simply providing lunch once every month or two can go a long way toward helping employees feel appreciated. There are also positive ways to express appreciation that don’t cost anything. Saying “thank you” to a team member when they work late or put in extra effort on a challenging task can make a big difference. During staff meetings, set aside 10 minutes to give shout-outs to employees who have gone the extra mile. Encourage coworkers to nominate team members to create a positive environment among departments.
For many employees, job satisfaction is about more than just the amount of their paychecks. Compensation is important, but it’s certainly not the only factor. Benefits, flexible schedules, work-life balance, and company culture are all important aspects of overall job satisfaction.
When employee-paid insurance premiums are high, employees may feel the financial strain of trying to keep their families insured and protected. On the other hand, an attractive benefits package can help your company appeal to and retain talented individuals. Before open enrollment rolls around, look into options and assess whether you’re offering valuable benefits to new and existing employees and their families. If you can’t make changes to the existing plan, consider offering reduced monthly premiums to employees who lead healthy lifestyles, such as those who don’t use tobacco or those enrolled in weight management programs.
Other ancillary benefits, such as gym memberships, transportation benefits, matched health savings account or flexible spending account contributions, and optical plans are often very appealing to employees.
Flexible schedules and opportunities to work remotely can help employees feel happier and more appreciated. Some employers are hesitant to offer the option to work from home because they feel employees may take advantage of the policy. However, opportunities like these can improve trust. You may also find that employees take less time off because they can work remotely when they have colds or other mild illnesses, or if they have sick children who can’t go to school or daycare.
If working remotely isn’t an option, offering flexible scheduling can also reduce stress. Employees who feel that they have more of a say in the hours they work often feel more valued and positive about their roles.
Work-life balance is an elusive and challenging concept that many employees struggle to achieve. With support from an employer, an employee is more likely to feel that they have a good balance between work responsibilities and their personal life. Encourage employees to disconnect when they go home for the night instead of checking emails throughout the evening.
In today’s tech-centered world, it’s hard to disconnect fully, but taking steps to ensure that your employees work only while at work can help improve the overall feeling at the office. You may also find that your employees are more productive at work when they spend less time thinking about work tasks at home. Your company might also consider offering additional PTO days or implementing a sick policy separate from the vacation policy so that your employees don’t have to take vacation days to recover from illness.
Members of the younger generation tend to place a high value on company culture. In fact, this can be so important to some employees that they could turn down an offer based on the atmosphere at the office. Making sure that employees feel valued and appreciated should be an integral part of any company’s culture. When the staff is overworked and stressed, the vibe around the workplace tends to feel strained and unpleasant. When potential new hires come in for interviews, they’ll often pick up on these feelings and could move on to other opportunities.
Your company culture should also encourage positive attitudes and reject habits that foster negativity. Gossip-mongers, complainers, and constant work-skippers should face appropriate action to nip these problems in the bud.
Employers might think that raises and perks are the only things that matter to employees, but these are certainly not the only factors in overall happiness and satisfaction. In fact, employees often report greater loyalty and improved productivity when they feel that their supervisors and other leaders within the company value their contributions. If you’re wondering how to have happy employees, think about making a few changes to the office layout, opening the lines of communication among employees and management team members, and improving benefits. You may find that your employees are happier and more productive than ever.