Business leaders have every reason to go the extra mile when it comes to keeping their employees happy — as the old adage goes, a happy workforce is a productive one. Productivity isn’t the be-all-end-all of worker happiness, though. Contented employees are more likely to enjoy their role, less likely to leave, and better at finding ways to be satisfied in their work.
Investing in the happiness of your employees is just that: an investment. It may take a while, but every ounce of effort you put towards making your team happier will be returned to you. Whether it affects your bottom line, your office morale, or just the overall culture of your workplace, your workers’ happiness is a huge factor in the operations of your business.
How to Improve Employee Happiness
Here are six ways you can give your employees a much-needed boost in happiness:
1. Up their benefits.
It’s simple: employees like to feel valued, and what better way to value them than with tangible increases in their benefits? This can be something major, like a salary increase, to a more low-key perk like reimbursement of commuting costs. Worker happiness is never just about the money and benefits, but it’s still easy for underpaid workers to feel undervalued in turn.
Even the seemingly mundane benefits, such as a premium health insurance plan or a small business 401k, can go a long way to show your employees that their wellbeing is at the top of your mind. This may not be the cheapest solution, but it’s no doubt the simplest: give your workers what they want, and they’ll be happier because of it.
2. Recognize good work out loud.
When a manager notices a dip in team morale, praise and recognition are usually the two immediate go-tos for giving the office a shot in the arm. While this is absolutely the right instinct, not all praise is created equally. Don’t dispense praise excessively or ritualistically — workers will only fully value it if they think that it’s sincere, and obvious efforts to boost praise will come off as specious. Give criticism where needed, but don’t be afraid to offer admiration for a job well done.
Perhaps most importantly, give praise out loud and in the company of others whenever possible. Employees will feel significantly more recognized if other members of their team know just how much you value what they’ve done. There’s nothing wrong with delivering praise in private either casually or as part of a performance review, but public praise can help take worker satisfaction to the next level.
3. Encourage group activities.
Anyone who’s ever managed a successful company knows that the magic of business is in synergy. A group of people, no matter how capable they are on their own, will always be able to produce something greater than the sum of their parts if they can find a way to work together effectively. The same is true for workplace happiness: the more you can motivate your team and bring them together, the easier it will be for them to find mutual satisfaction in their work.
You can help further both of these causes by encouraging your workers to engage in team-building activities. This can be anything from weekly lunches to spontaneous games to informal Slack channels and anything in between. These can help alleviate stressful periods of work while laying the groundwork for big team efforts later on — and increase the happiness of your workforce to boot.
4. Separate work and play.
Even though team activities are great for long and short-term morale boosts, they have to be done correctly in order to have a real impact. While it may be fun at first, a constant barrage of parties, activities, and drinks can blur the line between work and play in such a way that makes neither pleasurable.
Too much time spent on recreation will make it harder for your team to focus on their work, and an overabundance of activities can give employees whiplash from switching back and forth between work and play so often. Don’t skimp on the opportunities for fun, but space them out and silo off dedicated time for them — that way, your team always has something tangible to look forward to.
5. Give them space.
Over the past few decades in the business world, “micromanagement” has become something of a bad word. Overadministration and constant workplace surveillance can have real impacts on a worker’s job satisfaction. It’s no wonder that 69% of employees who have experienced micromanagement by a superior say that they’ve considered quitting as a result.
Giving your employees space doesn’t just mean not breathing down their necks all the time — though that’s certainly part of it. Avoiding micromanagement is a given; workers expect it from you. What they may not expect is the freedom to pursue projects of their own interest, create their own workflows, or communicate with clients in the manner they deem most appropriate. The more space you give your employees for experimentation, the more they’ll be able to really express themselves in their roles — a crucial element in achieving on-the-job happiness.
6. Elaborate on your business mission.
Your business mission may be one of the last things you think of when it comes to employee happiness — it hardly has anything at all to do with your employees, right? Not quite. Workers want to arrive at the office every morning with a sense of purpose in their work, and a lucid business mission can help them do that.
No one wants to feel like they’re simply working for a paycheck or to keep the lights on, so state the goals of your company clearly for all to see. It could be anything from streamlining the employee experience to improving the community you live in; your team wants fulfilling work, so give them goals that they can help fulfill.
A happy worker may be a productive worker, but the benefits don’t just stop there. It’s within your power to improve the livelihood of every person at your company — why not use these tips to help make that happen?