Work is a big part of our lives. In fact, many of us probably see our colleagues more than we see our own families over the course of an average week.
It makes sense, then, that employees want to feel respected in the workplace and to truly enjoy their jobs. If you’re going to spend so much time at the office, you might as well be happy while you’re at it.
But employee happiness isn’t just a matter of your workers’ personal attitudes — it’s also a boost to your business. Research shows that happy employees can be as much as 20 percent more productive than unhappy employees. After all, a happy team is a committed, engaged team.
From a recruiting perspective, employee retention is incredibly important, and retention rates often depend on employee happiness. Unhappiness is a major factor in early exits. Given that one study puts the cost of employee replacement at around £30,000 (or about $37,000) per head, cultivating employee happiness may be key to getting the highest ROI from your hires.
But how do you keep employees happy? Competitive pay and benefits are, of course, contributing factors, but they are not the whole story. Here are five other things you can do to keep your team happy — and reap the benefits of higher productivity, more loyalty, and lower recruitment costs:
1. Empower Employees
Great leaders empower their teams. When employees have the tools, resources, and support they need, they can get more done. Empowered employees are also happier employees. When workers feel that leaders trust them to carry out their responsibilities, they feel more competent and more motivated to complete their tasks.
You should also show your team members that you value their opinions by allowing them to speak up and make changes. Employees will feel more respected when they have the chance to offer feedback on important projects and company initiatives. When employees see that you appreciate their efforts and insights, they’ll be happier about coming to work every day.
2. Be Flexible
While many of us are accustomed to the traditional 9-5 workday, advances in technology have made forcing every single member of your staff to adhere to the same time frame obsolete.
That’s a good thing, especially from the perspective of employee happiness. When you offer employees more flexible work options — like telecommuting opportunities, compressed workweeks, and flexible scheduling — you allow them to attain a better work/life balance. Your staff members no longer need to give up so much time to long commutes, and their external commitments no longer have to compete with workplace responsibilities.
Furthermore, extending flexibility shows workers you trust them. Employees will be highly appreciative of this, and in return, they’ll give their maximum effort to meet your expectations.
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3. Provide Learning Opportunities
An important quote to keep in mind is Richard Branson’s: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Most of your employees want to improve their professional skills and progress in their careers. Instead of leaving your employees to seek growth opportunities with your competitors, offer them in-house training and education. Your employees will feel valued because you are investing in them, and your business will benefit from their new skills.
Your employees will likely have a variety of interests, so consider providing a range of training opportunities. For example, you could offer both courses on specific practical skills — such as how to use Adobe InDesign — and courses on bigger topics, such as mental health in the workplace.
4. Create Career Development Plans
Hand in hand with learning opportunities, your employees also want clear career prospects. Even if you invest in employee development, your staff members may leave if there is no room for them to climb the corporate ladder at your company.
To support your employees’ career journeys, work with them to create individual career development plans. In addition to identifying areas where employees can refine and expand their skill sets, these career development plans should clearly show employees what they can expect to achieve in the business if they are committed. When employees have transparency into how raises and promotions work, they’ll be more empowered to build the careers they want in your company. As a result, you can expect a happier and more productive work environment.
5. Praise Great Work
No matter how experienced your team members are or how long they’ve been at your company, recognition and reward can be powerful tools for keeping them happy.
Don’t be stingy about it. There’s no limit on how often you can recognize great work, so whenever you spot anything worth praising, say something! For best results, add some detail. For example, instead of “Great job!” you could say, “I’ve looked over that report you put together yesterday and it looks great. Thanks for your hard work.” When praise is tied to something specific, it makes the recipient feel even more appreciated.
Employee happiness is a major factor in company productivity and retention, and the good news is keeping your people happy doesn’t have to be hard. With open communication and a genuine desire to build up every member of the team, you can transform your office into a happy, inspiring place.
Rajesh Velayuthasamy is director of Mint Formations.