Are Your Employees Happy at Work?

It is the time of year for high morale in many work places, possibly with the exception of retail where employees face working over the holiday season. There is a certain joy in the air because time off work, celebration and the giving and receiving of presents approaches. This is quickly followed by the anti-climax and sadness felt at the return to work in the New Year.

The question is do employers do enough the year through to keep their employees happy or are they that stressed and overworked themselves that they forget to appreciate the team they have? It is a tough balance marrying targets and expectations with appreciation and recognition. Far too many get it wrong and phrases like these are banded around – particularly at middle management levels where they receive stress from both sides:

‘They should be grateful to have a job’

‘When I was doing their job it was twice as hard as it is now’

‘If they don’t like it – get another job’

But, the solution is far simpler than most imagine and just takes a few acts of kindness and appreciation. A happy workforce is far more productive and far more likely to go out of their way to surprise you by putting in above and beyond what is expected of them!

Firstly, forget about raises and big bonuses, there are much simpler and cheaper alternatives to keep your employees happy. If you are serious about business then you have to be serious about thinking creatively to keep hold of happy employees. Here are a few ideas you can try:

Offer room for them to grow into

When employees hit a wall they quickly become disillusioned with their work. If they continue to come to a job that does not inspire, stretch or excite them they are unlikely to be happy. Employees need to see an opportunity for advancement. Ideally, that opportunity will be seen as attainable so they have a real chance to progress their talents, be promoted or learn a new skill. These are all positive, happiness boosting targets to have.

Providing training opportunities and career mentoring also show your employees that you care about whether they feel fulfilled at work. They feel valued and supported which are often rare qualities to have in your job in an increasingly competitive and sales driven world.

Offer solid training

Initial training as employees enter their new role can be essential for future success and happiness in that role. Empowering them on day one so that they feel like a capable member of the team, rather than the person who is dreading the possibility of making a mistake and displeasing their new employer, can be immensely important.

Strong orientation and training on entry is far more likely to encourage engagement between employees.

Offer small bonuses

Bonuses do not have to be big to make a powerful impact. If an employee knows you are going out of your way to offer them a bonus they will feel valued. Bonuses increase loyalty because they confirm to the employee that their role is valued and at base that you are aware they exist and are working hard at their job.

Avoiding offering bonuses just because you cannot give them something substantial is making an assumption that most employees would not fit into to. No bonus sends the message that they are not noted and that you are not prepared to reward hard work. Choosing to reward your employees will only draw out their best performances and increase their loyalty.

Offer autonomy

Autonomy is a huge plus because it tells employees that they are trusted to do their job. This is one of the key elements of a happy worker. It is also the distinction between a talented employee and one that may be in the wrong role or in need of structured training. Handing autonomy to an employee makes them more productive because they do not have to keep having their work checked and approved. You will also see creativity and intuition bubble to the surface as they approach tasks in their own way.

Create the perfect office environment

This is an obvious one but unsurprisingly employees are happiest when they like their working environment. Little things like keeping meetings short and to the point, playing background music and allowing flexible breaks can make all the difference. So too can personalised work spaces (screen savers, a picture or poster on their desk, a coloured chair) and comfortable chairs, desk heights and decent broadband!

Make sure you have a communicative work space where employees are not frightened to come forward with questions and comments. Workers will feel far happier at work if they think their opinion matters and their issues can be aired without judgement.

Allow employees to work from home from time to time

If this is possible it can be a big bonus for you and your employees. The ability to work from home can cut down sick leave and once again reinforces the fact that you trust and respect your employees. Working from home is a huge incentive because it is perceived as a massive treat. Extending the ability to employees to request this will guarantee high productivity levels whether they are in the office or at home. Because you have extended these values to them they will respect you and the company ethos in return.

Allow workers to focus on their jobs

Workers cannot give their all if they keep being pulled off a job and spend their day responding to what you feel is a priority. They will manage their workload in a way that suits them so respect them enough to fit into their schedule. There will always be important tasks that come up and you are guaranteed your employees full attention if you do not bombard them daily. Constant interruption can be a hugely demoralising factor because you are constantly telling them that their schedule is less important than yours. Their jobs are not as important as the ones you come to them with.

Try and restrict pointless emails and instead compile one that ums up everything you need to tell them. This is far more managed and less time consuming for the recipient. Employees will be tons happier if they can focus on what they deem is important because that is empowering and also where creativity and talent can come into its own!

Extend workers balance in their lives

The work life and home life balance can become an incredibly grey area. If you offer your employees clarity and operate with full transparency they will respect you for it. Give employees the ability to switch off from their work when they leave the building. Allow dentist and doctor appointments without hassle. Ask them for overtime and explain why it is crucial because a blanket ‘I want you all in – no excuses’ just frustrates and belittles them.

If you are fair they will work hard when you need a little extra from them. When life gets in the way allow them some personal time and they will be eternally grateful for your compassion. There is always a line but a touch of humanity has a place in every business.

Give a break for Facebook and other activities

The social media pull is great in the 21st century. Make sure you allow workers short breaks to check their phones, browse their Facebook pages and be sociable. If you permit breaks to happen naturally throughout the day they will never feel he need to smuggle their phones into toilets, text out of a drawer or hide their Facebook tab on their desktop. Think of the time they could burn trying to have a quick glance of their feed as people keep walking past. Far easier just to permit short breaks and bring the national obsession into the open!

Conclusion

It doesn’t take a lot to show you care. Showing you care makes employees happy because it doesn’t take them long to start doubting their efforts. Employees should feel valued and appreciated. Yes, they could change jobs if they are not happy but do you really want one of your legacies to be a high turnover of staff? How you and your business is perceived and maybe even goes down in history will have a lot to do with what your workers say about you.

A successful business is full of motivated and happy employees. As they grow bigger and bigger employees further down the chain of command tend to get less and less satisfaction in their roles. Make your employees happy because it will feel good, they will show you what true loyalty can look like, and they may even surprise you with their hidden talents and tenacity because you stopped to notice them and acknowledge their needs.

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