Many businesses operate under the assumption that employees want to be paid more. And while pay raises and bonuses are important aspects of employee retention, there’s ultimately one thing that matters more: happiness. Not sure where to start when it comes to employee happiness? Here are five strategies that generally work:
1. Gather and Listen to Feedback
Employees just want to be heard. They want to know that their opinions matter and that they are respected and cherished members of the organization. Sadly, a lot of business leaders make decisions independent of their employees. This drives a wedge between the employer and employees and causes frustration.
One of the best things you can do is simply listen to your employees. Even if you make a decision that’s different than the one they want you to make, the mere fact that you listen says a lot about where your priorities are. An open door policy, along with opportunities for anonymous feedback, goes a long way towards improving communication and elevating satisfaction.
2. Remove Points of Friction
Every business has little friction points that frustrate employees. They’re often small problems, but when they have to be dealt with on a day-in and day-out basis, they become really annoying.
Take the outdated process of manual time tracking as an example. “Asking employees to manually track their hours is a recipe for disaster—it often leads to over or underpaying, which in turn opens the business up to future FLSA lawsuits,” says Jay Schofield of System ID.
Other examples, while seemingly frivolous, include messy break rooms, low-quality office equipment, stringent clock-in and clock-out procedures, and slow internet connections.
3. Offer More Time Off
How many days off do your employees get each year? Chances are, it’s probably not enough. American companies, on average, grant just 10 days per year to employees. For perspective, French employees get at least five weeks off each year. While you don’t have to follow the French, you can and probably should give your employees a few more days off. Chances are, the increased job satisfaction will actually enhance productivity more than anything.
4. Encourage Flexible Work Scheduling
Researcher Dan Schawbel has spent a lot of time studying employee satisfaction and how workplace procedures impact it. He and his team recently completed an in-depth study on the topic and found some interesting results. Specifically, they discovered that employees don’t want more money – they actually want better work-life balance.
“In the study, we found that 35 percent of employees want more flexible schedules and 46 percent of employees say that flexibility is the most important aspect when looking for a new job,” Schawbel notes. This begs the question, how can you encourage a more flexible schedule for your employees?
5. Treat Employees Like Adults
At the end of the day, employees don’t want to feel like they’re sitting in a ninth grade classroom. They crave respect and independence. The best way to make employees happy is by giving them the autonomy they desire.
If an employee’s child gets sick at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and needs to run and pick them up, that employee shouldn’t feel like he or she has to walk on eggshells. If a salesperson needs to grab lunch with a client, he or she shouldn’t have to go through a lengthy approval process in order to be granted permission. You get the picture.
Happiness is the Key to Job Satisfaction
Organizations claim that they prioritize employee happiness, yet few companies ever take tangible steps towards actually making sure employees enjoy their work. They either attempt to quell employees with occasional bonuses or ignore their feelings altogether.
Unfortunately, neither of these techniques work. What you need to do is identify things that matter to your employees and look for opportunities to enhance them. Only then can you enjoy a fully satisfied workforce that’s productive and engaged.
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