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How to Make Employees Happy, Productive, and Want to Stick Around

Posted by on February 02, 2016 | Business, Culture, People

How do you make your employees happy and productive?

And what causes them to actually want to stay with your company?

It is easier said than done.

Some people think employee happiness is overrated (do you?).

“Being happy at work isn’t just good for the employees. It’s good for the company, too. After all, a study of 250,000 people found that happy employees tend to be healthier, more productive, have more energy, and maintain better relationships — with you, with their customers, and with each other.”

And in this post we’ll walk you through the exact step-by-step

strategies you can use to make your employees happy.

How To Make Employees Happy:

Companies in the top quartile for engaged employees had a 22 percent higher profitability and 10 percent higher customer ratings.

So why do a mere 30 percent of employees in the U.S. (and just 13 percent internationally) say that they feel engaged at work?

Because unless hypnosis is one of your specialties, then you’re not going to be able to make a group of people 100% happy and productive 100% of the time.

Why not?

Because if you’ve done your job right, you’ve hired a diverse set of people who can work well together and bring different strengths to the table.

But having a diverse group of people means that you must cater to many different needs. If you try a blanket approach with just one program or initiative to try and make your employees happy, then it might not work for everyone.

So if you’re braindead and wondering what to do to make your employees happier, more productive, and want to stick around, check out this list of what the experts have to say:

Compliment a job well done

Linkedin influencer Randy Kessler says that the key to employee happiness is to compliment them often. “Criticism often comes too easily,” says Kessler.

But if there is more to compliment than to criticize about an employee (and if there isn’t, then the employee should not be there), why do many people (employers/supervisors) criticize more than they compliment?

I am sure many employees feel this pain. Kessler goes on to argue that because compliments are scarcer than criticisms, their employees receive them with much more appreciation.

He also makes the assumption that compliments make people happy, but I don’t think many people would argue otherwise. “Sure financial rewards, bonuses, perks all help, but a compliment costs you nothing and may be much more powerful.

Try it for a week; I am sure you will notice a difference.”

Learn more about your team

Molly Owens, CEO of Truity (an online personality assessment website), knows a thing or two about what makes people tick. She says that the simple answer to keeping your employees happy is to learn more about your team.

“Discuss your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and try using psychometrics to determine what kind of personalities you have in the office,” says Owens.

“The 2015 Strengths @ Work Survey—performed by Michelle McQuaid and the VIA Institute—show that 78 percent of managers who take the time to learn their employees’ strengths have employees who are more energized and engaged by their work.”

No doubt, when employees understand what their strengths are, they can think more actively of ways to use them to contribute to the team.

Show them you care

Val Matta, Vice President of Business Development at CareerShift, says that employees need recognition. This doesn’t just go as far as praising them for a job well done or giving them a pat on the back.

“Employees need recognition,” says Matta, “In the past, that has typically meant raises and bonuses. Today, more and more employees are looking for better advancement opportunities.”

So how do you show an employee that your company is a place that they can keep growing? Show that you trust them now with the duties they’ve been given.

Matta goes on, “BambooHR found that 80 percent of 30-44 year olds consider a boss who doesn’t trust them or empower them a ‘deal breaker.’ These employees often feel like they have earned their role on the team and should be trusted to perform their duties at a high level.”

Matta encourages employers to review their company’s practices and discuss how they affect their employees. “Remember,” she says, “employees are looking for a manager who cares.”

How To Make Employees Productive:

University of Warwick’s Economic Research Institute Journal revealed, “Human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity… Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.”

So how can companies promote happiness in such a way it yields productivity?

Challenge outdated management practices

Jacob Morgan is a globally recognized keynote speaker, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Future of Work Community—a global brand council which explores how the workplace is changing.

He has a few suggestions for ways to keep teams more productive and engaged.

Invest in collaboration technologies: “Use internal social networks, video conferencing, and other remote tools to stay connected. Employees will feel more connected and have a better understanding of how they fit into the big picture, while employers can have a better understanding of what their employees care about.”

Morgan also says that, “Companies investing in these technologies are also much more likely to offer flexible work environments which helps with employee engagement.”

Provide visibility into goals and objectives: Have everyone be open about goals, not just management. Being transparent with personal goals helps employees challenge one another to do better.

Provide autonomy: “Instead of tracking hours organizations should focus on outcomes and outputs,” says Morgan. “As many organizations have told me, the role of managers is simply to help employees understand where the company needs to go, but how the company gets there is up to the employees.”

Autonomy is 20 times better than income at predicting happiness.

Challenge outdated management practices: “The best thing that organizations can do to continuously improve engagement and productivity is to evaluate and test common assumptions around how work is currently being done.”

Morgan then goes on to list a number of companies, such as Adobe and Buffer, which have been innovative in creating new management practices to better encourage employee engagement.

“Have frequent conversations with employees, to make sure they are engaged and challenged at work. If not, reassess your projects and find ways to increase the level of work that your ‘bored’ employees receive.”

Meet their core needs

Tony Schwartz is the chief executive of a consulting firm, and Christine Porath is an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Together they released an article for the New York Times about why people hate work and how to re-engage employees.

Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.

Schwartz and Porath provide evidence that meeting needs of employees fuels their productivity, loyalty, and their performance, and that many companies are trying to meet these needs.

However, they also point out that, “Far less common is a broader shift in the corporate mind-set from trying to get more out of employees to investing more in meeting their needs, so they’re both capable of and motivated to perform better and more sustainably.”

Encourage them to take ownership

In response to Schwartz and Porath’s New York Times article, Linkedin influencer Colin Shaw wrote an article comparing Google and Walmart, and how their drastically different levels of employee engagement may influence their stock prices.

You can almost assume based on the two company reputations that Google has higher employee engagement than Walmart. “Google has great employee engagement. Their satisfaction rating by employees is 99%. Google, is well known for having an Empowered culture that encourages employees to take ownership in their role in the company’s success.”

Make sure you add opportunities for growth

KC Ifeanyi of Fast Company interviewed Quora’s director of product management, Sandra Liu Huang, about how a culture of learning makes teams more productive. Huang’s advice includes making it ok to ask questions, believe that everyone can learn, and create opportunities for learning.

“There’s a concept in this book called Conscious Business about learners versus knowers. We try to hire people who don’t necessarily have all the answers but are curious and interested in learning and growing,” says Huang.

A culture of learning engages people’s minds and teaches them new skills, which in turn results in more productivity.

how to make employees happy

How To Make Employees Want To Stick Around:

How do you retain employees?

We’ve actually already answered this question. The basic solution to attrition is for employers to ensure that their people are happy and engaged. If you really want your employees to stick around, make sure they’re flourishing within your company.

If you’ve read this full list and you’re still at a loss for how to make your employees happy and productive, don’t be afraid to be direct and just ask them. Who knows them better than they know themselves?
Bottom line… invest in your employees.

Maria VanDyken

Maria VanDyken

As the Creative Director at EC Group, Maria generates and oversees our multimedia—from print, to web, to video. She also enjoys doodling on her iPad, and taking care of her desk plant.
Maria VanDyken
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