If business owners and managers don’t care about the happiness of employees, it’s likely that a substantial percentage of their most talented workers will leave. That’s one reason to care. The other is that happy, engaged workers are more likely to be creative, productive and customer-centric — ready and eager to contribute to your bottom line. How do you promote happiness and engagement? Every manager worries about their employees at one time or another. From sick time to work time, the bottom line of the business is to maintain a great environment so everyone can do their best. Without a comfortable environment where employees feel they can do their job, you will find that turnover will rear its ugly head more and more often. So what can you do as a manager to create a great workplace environment?
There are a few secrets that you can easily use to make your workplace a great one for everyone. It is very easy to get caught up in worrying if your company is going to do well and forgetting about the things that make people want to work for you. Making your organization a happy place to go to work is an essential component to the successful long-lasting business. A happy work environment attracts good people and helps the people who work for you do the best for the company. To create that kind of environment, it takes a strong top down and bottom up approach. It takes creativity and presence of mind. It takes proper hiring practices and clear expectations. You can have it. You can be the one to start it. Once it gets underway, the feeling is infectious and your best bet is to think of your happy workplace as a sound investment.
Happy is not just a pipe dream. There is theory and study behind it. A whole field of Psychology is devoted to it. You won’t be surprised to know that buying something new might make you happy for a few minutes but like a sugar rush, wears off really quickly. This is the workplace equivalent of landing a great contract or getting a great price reduction. It is exciting but very short lived. The next level of happiness, which tends to last a lot longer, is the feeling that you have a pleasant life. That kind of feeling comes from liking what you are doing and feeling good about your job. The most sustainable level of happiness is being able to feel like you are giving back to this world.
There are many things you can do to make a sustainably happy organization. Here are some ways to get started:
Show That You Care
Treat employees with respect to show that you value them as human beings. Too many companies treat their workers as fungible assets that can be divested at a moment’s notice. If you truly care about employees, interact with them frequently. Show that you care about each individual. This will inspire employees, engage or re-engage them and demonstrate that they have value to the organization. If you treat your employees well, they will treat your customers well and, in turn, the customers will be happier and buy more from your company, helping to drive a cycle of success. If workers are apathetic or angry, those emotions will spill over into their customer-service efforts. little bit of appreciation for your employees and their accomplishments, you show them that they are valuable to both you and your business.
Cater in lunch every now and then, even if it’s just some pizzas from the local pizza place, or grab donuts for the crew when you’re on your way to work. Everyone loves a free lunch, even if they worked for it. You can also do little things such as an Employee of the Month or Quarter, and fun things like “Neatest Desk” awards, and so on. Just don’t go overboard or it might look like you are trying too hard. Ever hear of the Hawthorne effect? It’s the increase in productivity in the workplace when people feel that they are cared about. It makes people happy to be asked how they are and for you to take a little time to find out how things are going in their lives. It means remembering to take the time to say, “How are you”.
Better Security And Pay
Given today’s pace of change, no company can guarantee job security. But companies can offer a greater sense of security and above-average pay to attract — and retain — the best talent. At the same time, you can generate a heightened sense of security among workers by stressing that “we are all in this together.” Spread the message that if everyone delivers superior products and stays one step ahead of the competition, everyone will have a good job tomorrow. It’s important that everyone understand that job security isn’t somebody else’s concern. Each employee either contributes to, or diminishes, their own job security by helping the company succeed or not. Workers must recognize that they own their individual and collective future. Do something to give back to your community or to the world.
Having a company wide initiative that makes a difference will make people feel connected to the greater good. Take a poll. Find out what people care about and get their opinions on how best to accomplish those goals. Part of the secret to being happy at work is to encourage people to have personal career goals. When people feel that they are working toward something, the day-to-day politics and stresses of the workplace don’t matter as much. Each challenging day can be better tolerated because it is a means to a personal end. People are able to separate themselves from their jobs and not become mired in the negativity when they are focused on reaching personal goals.
Provide Growth Opportunities
Whether it’s the opportunity to develop new skills or advance within the organization, workers must believe that the company is helping them grow their careers and better themselves as individuals. Few employees will be satisfied — much less enthusiastic — about a dead end job. But if they are convinced that your company offers a path to a more fulfilling life, they will be more likely to be loyal and engaged members of your corporate family. HR professionals have long touted the advice above, but frankly, not enough executives have listened. As the competition for skilled and talented workers intensifies, however, it’s vital for employers to expand their recruitment and retention efforts beyond pay and benefits.
It’s important to put more thought and effort into “soft” strategies, including employee recognition, awards and other incentive programs that will facilitate higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction. This area is one that can be very hard for some employers, as they think about their business 24 hours a day. But your employees do not. Instead, they have personal lives outside of your business. Remember that and don’t expect them to be working 24 hours, 7 days a week, including holidays. This is the fastest road to burnout for an employee and one that a manager or business owner cannot afford to take. Allow your employees their time off to unwind and unplug from your business and their job. By having time to recharge their batteries, they will come back to work refreshed and motivated to get after it. Don’t expect them to eat, sleep, and breathe their job. Even if it is something you do, it’s extremely unfair to assume they will as well.
Communicate And Socialize
Everyone loves office parties. It’s a time when you get to hang out with those at work without worrying about work. Holidays, birthdays, and so on are all good reasons to get the gang together to have some fun. You can do this at the office and just take some time out toward the end of the day to goof off, or you can find a great place close by to enjoy some time away with everyone. Everyone loves to gather around a jukebox and just visit with each other. Don’t let these opportunities slip away from you to enjoy your employees as actual people outside of work. It can be a great way to get to know them all better. Everyone in the world knows that if you cannot communicate with your employees, you might as well just close up shop.
But believe it or not, many employers fail miserably when it comes to talking with their employees and clam up when it comes to important issues that everyone should be aware of. As an employee, wouldn’t you rather hear news (good or bad) from your management instead of office gossip? Sure you would. Staff meetings are an excellent way to keep your employees in the loop and ensure that they feel important in the business and not just a “worker”. Hiring people who are going to help make your workplace happier will take a little thought and preparation. It is natural to focus on relevant experience and past achievements when interviewing a candidate. And you are right to want those things for your company. But ignoring the personality is a mistake.
Create A Positive Atmosphere
Every company has one, that negative person that constantly sees the bad side of everything. But this does not mean that it needs to be the boss. If employees are constantly hearing the doom and gloom from a co-worker that they know is just a negative person, that is one thing. You don’t want them seeing you as that negative person or it will show in their performance and in your business. If workers feel that their ship is sinking, where is the motivation to work and make the business grow? It flies right out the window, and they start to follow it to another job. Don’t let yourself become the Negative Nancy in your business. Stay positive, no matter what, and keep any negative things to yourself. We have a tendency not to focus on the big picture when we are really busy.
This prevents us from creating perks or planning fun events that make the workplace happier. Treat people to something surprisingly good and fun. A day at the amusement park, a movie in the afternoon with popcorn and candy, chair massages. Anything you can think of to make people feel that you are doing something nice for them will make people feel happier. Lots of places get caught up in the negative. They debrief by going over what didn’t work. Turn that around. Focus on the positive. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore the things that need to be improved on, it just means that when you are looking for the good, you will find the good. If you look for the bad, everything will seem bleak.