In the current market, when businesses are often existing on the tiniest edges of margins, any opportunity you have to encourage employees to be more productive is a good thing.
Often, CEOs and boards look at the statistics around productivity and approach things in a rather backwards way.
They might say that they can't afford to give employees a raise (since if we just give them more money, they'll be more productive, right?), or they may try to find the most productive employee, and challenge everyone else to be just like that person (which isn't ever going to work out well).
In fact, studies at the University of Warwick have found that the first step towards increasing employee productivity may be increasing employee happiness.
Let's talk about this a little bit more!
Why We Need to Keep Employees Happy
There are three key reasons to keep your employees happy at work. Happy employees are more:
- Likely to be retained
It's really not surprising; employees that are happier with their jobs are going to take fewer coffee breaks and bathroom breaks that are really about just getting away from their desks. They're going to be more engaged at work, which enables them to see more of the big picture and offer up creative ideas and suggestions that may positively benefit the whole business. And when they're happier at work, they're less likely to look for somewhere else to be, which means that retention is easier.
For any business that's watching its bottom line, the simple fact that employees are going to be more productive and less likely to leave should be more than enough reason to boost employee morale. Onboard and training replacements, after all, is one of the most expensive activities companies engage in.
So if we all agree, as we should, that keeping employees happy is important, how do we do that?
Speak Their "Language"
Have you ever been at a large meeting where your boss, without warning, decides to acknowledge you for a job well done? You've felt your face get hot and wished you could sink into the floor rather than continue to sit at the table?
Alternatively, have you ever gotten an email from your boss praising you for everything you do for the company, and you've thought to yourself that if it really mattered to her, she would have sent it to your whole team?
Every employee has different criteria for feeling supported and praised, and one of the worst mistakes that managers can make is to praise employees in the wrong "language."
As a manager, I handled this challenge in a very forthright way. The first time an employee did something that I thought the whole team should know about, I went to their desk and congratulated them on a job well done. I then said, "I'd love to share this success with our team at the next weekly meeting. Would that be all right with you?" Simple, straightforward, and it got me the information I needed. As an extra bonus, the employee was usually thrilled that I'd taken the time to ask.
Offer Flexible Scheduling
Flexible scheduling is often under discussion for parents with very young kids, but there are many other reasons flexible scheduling can be important to your employees. For example:
- Moonlighting as freelancers, speakers, or day traders is becoming increasingly common in our current economy.
- Elderly parents or relatives are often in need of care, as well as young kids.
Basically, when you can be flexible with scheduling, your employees will thank you.
To go along with that, when someone is a salaried employee, nitpicking their arrival and departure times on a daily basis aggravates everyone. If someone is consistently not getting their work done, or causing delays because of a lackadaisical attitude towards being on time, that's one thing, but if you're tracking that the person who normally works a 50 hour week is 3 minutes late in the morning, you've misunderstood what salaried means.
Related Article: How To Keep Your Employees Happy, Engaged, Productive And Loyal
Provide Them With Training and Resources
If you want your employees to be happy and content, you need to give them the tools necessary to do their jobs. When there's a new system that they'll be expected to use on the computers, offer them training, manuals, and time to get accustomed to the software. If there's a new policy going into effect, don't just tell them what it is, tell them why it's happening, and what benefits it will provide both them and the company at large.
And if you're asking employees to move from one location to another, it's just decent to pay for employee moving expenses. It's easier for everyone, and your employees will appreciate the gesture.
By choosing policies and approaches to employees that help to keep them happy, companies benefit themselves. None of these policy changes directly cost the company, but they can greatly increase profits.