Tips for creating a happier workforce

A happier workforce is often more productive, which is better for your business. It’s unlikely that an employer deliberately sets out to create a bad workplace that employees don’t want to stay working in. However, some business owners are so absorbed in their business and the day to day happenings that they take their eye off the ball. They may expect everyone to be as passionate and consumed by the business as they are, living and breathing the same values.

The other misconception is that to keep employees happy at work is expensive, and that you can make them want to stay by throwing money at them. How many times has someone handed in their notice saying they are getting more money elsewhere, to be made a counter offer to stay? They do but only to still leave in a few months.

This article sets out tips for how you can create happier and more productive employees.

1. Set out clear expectations

A ‘good’ employer is one who sets clear expectations to employees, including what is to be done, when it is to be done by, and where it goes after they complete their responsibilities. Within these expectations, you need to set clear boundaries, demonstrate healthy leadership and provide sound direction. This means spelling out rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.

While you can usually accomplish this by creating a comprehensive employee manual, a good employer or manager will also use a personal touch. This could be through regularly talking with employees in groups and on a one-on-one basis.

Whatever expectations you set, make sure they are consistent with all employees. Include such things as clocking in early, break times, lunch hours, etc. For example, is it acceptable to clock in early and leave work early? Are breaks mandatory? Will an employee be docked money if they consistently take too long for lunch? The more issues and expectations you outline, the fewer problems arise, which leads to productive workers.

2. Help employees feel valued

Encourage your employees and offer praise when appropriate. Thank employees for doing a good job and let them know that you value them. People want to stay in positive environments.

Should something go wrong or someone makes a mistake, do not punish the person. Rather, talk to the person, teach them the correct procedures and offer encouragement and further training when needed. Remember that punishing people only makes things worse. The employee may become angry and bitter and may want to sabotage their work to get back at the company. If errors continue after correction, then you may need to evaluate that person to make sure that they are a good fit for the job. 

As an employer, you have an excellent opportunity to make a difference in your employees’ lives. Take an interest in them, smile, ask how their family is or about their interests or problems – and mean it. If you sense that someone is struggling, help that person get the necessary resources, as employees with stress have higher absenteeism, increased health problems, and decreased performance. Remember that we are all humans working together to get through life. We need to care about each other to get the best results.

3. Look after their wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is an increasingly important topic. Think carefully about the working environment, create spaces where people can meet and talk. Some businesses have deliberately created an area where people can eat lunch and socialise rather than eating on their own in their offices.

Make the workplace family friendly. Work/life balance issues can be a major cause of stress and conflict in the workplace. You can also offer some lifestyle benefits which do not have to cost the earth, for example, a cycle to work scheme, child care vouchers, subsidised gym membership, or employee assistance programmes. All of these lifestyle benefits can help to support wellbeing.

As it is so important, we have an eBook devoted to employee mental health and wellbeing.

4. Have fun

We are at work for a long time and often spend more time at work than with our families, so make it fun. What is fun can be decided by your staff. It could be regular events, pizza Fridays (or healthier versions), fundraising events, social events, surprises, the list is endless.

When employees feel that they are a dynamic and essential part of the team, they are more productive and willing to go the extra mile for their customers and co-workers, and want to stay part of the business. Therefore, give praise openly, set goals appropriate to the work and always take your employees’ needs seriously.

By respecting and listening to your staff, you will be giving them the motivational push they need to stay loyal and committed to the company’s goals. When you have a happy and productive workforce that is eager to contribute, your company can weather any economic storm.

Find out more about developing your workforce on our skills, training and staff page

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