There’s no getting round the fact that the world of work can be a serious place. Problems have to be solved, targets have to be met, and instructions have to be followed. For managers, however, things can get even more complicated, as somewhere amidst all this activity they need to figure out how to keep employees happy.
After all, an unhappy workforce is an unproductive workforce, and staff members who are not content in their work are far more likely to jump ship. This leaves their former employers with the task of having to recruit and train a replacement. Even if an employee who is feeling dissatisfied and unhappy in their job does decide to stay put for the time being, the consequences of their discontent for your business can still be detrimental.
For example, an unhappy worker is much less likely to engage with any incentive schemes which management decide to put in place. This can undermine the scheme overall, meaning that their colleagues are also less likely to participate fully. Additionally, dissatisfied workers have a tendency to feel a sense of resentment towards their line managers. This can have the effect of diminishing the authority of managers, and can even lead to serious disciplinary issues.
Given all of the above, it’s clear that learning how to keep employees happy should be a top priority for anyone with an interest in establishing a constructive and harmonious working culture within their business or organisation. With that in mind, here are a few effective techniques which can be used in order to accomplish this.
Don’t forget that your employees have a life outside of work
Keeping work and home life separate is important for many people as it helps them to focus on what’s most important to them in both areas of their lives. So it’s good to have respect for the privacy and boundaries of your employees. However, it is also vital to remember that even the most enigmatic employees will encounter issues in their personal lives which could have an impact on their performance at work, for example caring for children or ageing parents.
Whatever might be troubling your employee, it is vital not to pry or offer unwelcome help. Instead, provide practical assistance such as time off when needed. Also, try to establish a supportive atmosphere between trusted co-workers.
Let your staff know they are valued
While receiving a regular pay cheque which enables them to be comfortable financially is a central motivating factor for most professionals, learning how to keep employees happy involves much more than simply looking for ways to increase their salaries.
Working hard to meet deadlines, hit targets, or learn new skills can be enormously challenging and can lead to personal sacrifice. As such, it’s understandable that employees expect to be recognised for their endeavours and valued by their employer. Managers can accomplish this by introducing simple measures such as setting up an ’employee of the week’ scheme or holding a fun, informal awards ceremony as part of the annual Christmas party. It can also be achieved on an ad hoc basis by simply remembering to regularly thank employees for their contributions.
Utilise ‘soft’ benefits
Following on from the previous point, utilising ‘soft’ benefits such as a providing access to a company car or offering flexible working hours can be an excellent means of improving employee satisfaction. In addition to adding a sense of goodwill to the workplace, it can also help employees to resolve practical issues within their lives generally which might otherwise hinder their performance.
Don’t overemphasise mistakes made by your employees
As the saying goes, failure is the route to success. So, it’s important to protect your employees’ feelings when things don’t go quite so well.
Nobody gets things right every time, so if an employee does make a mistake make sure that they do not take it to heart. Instead, focus on what can be learnt from the experience, and stress that the employee is still valued. This will contribute towards establishing a positive and supportive working culture, and will also detract from the tendency some employees might have towards covering up any errors or attempting to shift blame onto somebody else.
Resist the temptation to micromanage
Given everything that is at stake in our working lives, it’s not surprising that many managers fall into the trap of attempting to micromanage every aspect of the way in which their business operates. However, this can be detrimental to company morale, as it effectively restricts the opportunities employees have to take on new responsibilities and develop their own careers.
Instead, lead by example by deciding what your ideal employee would be. Do everything in your power to embody this yourself, and you could become an inspirational role model for all concerned.
While there is no easy way to ensure that your entire workforce is happy in their work, probably the main takeaway from all of this is the importance of being sensitive to their needs and taking a proactive approach towards addressing any issues which might arise.
By making this a central part of your management style, you can achieve a happy, harmonious, and productive working environment which will benefit both your business and your employees themselves.