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10 Cost-Effective Ways to Boost Employee Happiness and Productivity

If you have a sneaking suspicion that employees aren’t feeling all that enchanted with work, you’re not alone. More than 52 percent of people are unhappy in the workplace — and nearly 70 percent are disengaged.

But all is not lost. Engaging and retaining talent often comes down to bettering job satisfaction. And when you better job satisfaction, you don’t just take the steps necessary to reduce turnover but can do wonders for improving productivity.

This isn’t to say employees don’t share some of the responsibility for their own happiness. They can certainly do things proven to improve satisfaction, such as maintaining a work-life balance, learning new skills, preparing for the day, etc. But employers still need to give staff the room to take care of themselves.

Here are ten ways you can take an active role in your employees’ satisfaction and happiness:

1. Take an interest.

According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, 58 percent of people say they’d trust a stranger over their boss. Of course, establishing trust isn’t easy, but it often starts by taking a genuine interest in staff. Ask questions, share stories, and help out when necessary. And with trust directly linked to happiness, your efforts should pay off.

2. Convey respect.

Happiness, as they say, is about respect, not riches. The only question is how should a leader show respect at work? Well, it can be something as simple as treating employees kindly and courteously. It can also take the form of listening before expressing your own opinion as well as including employees in meetings and decisions.

3. Show appreciation.

Good leaders make a point of regularly showing employees that they value their contributions. Look for ways to celebrate a job well done. Consider instituting an awards program, hosting a company event, or asking them to share tips and advice with colleagues — it’ll be quite the confidence booster.

But when you show your appreciation for your direct reports, greater happiness isn’t the only benefit. It can also improve employee retention rates. In fact, 79 percent of people who quit their jobs say “lack of appreciation” was the reason for their exit. It doesn’t take much for a leader to make people feel valued and appreciated.

4. Invest in development.

Providing training opportunities to your staff not only improves workforce quality but also shows employees they’re worth the investment. Establish a development program across all levels of your organization — and open up outside training opportunities to staff.

5. Shape clear career paths.

Even with professional development, employees will leave a company if they don’t see advancement opportunities. Help staff develop realistic career goals by holding regular career-planning discussions. Or, launch a mentorship program to assist employees in working toward internal opportunities.

6. Keep it fun.

Creating a culture where people feel comfortable talking and sharing a laugh will, naturally, improve employee happiness. But it can also make for a lighter environment, where, according to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, people become more open to ideas that make us “more productive, effective, and successful at work.”

7. Provide some flexibility.

An increasing number of companies are exploring flexible work schedules. Part of this is due to recruitment efforts — 96 percent of professionals say they need it. So, offering flexibility makes the employer more attractive. But it also provides freedom. Let’s face it: people do have obligations outside of work.

While we’d never suggest letting employees come and go as they please, you can probably find ways to let some team members come in early and others to come in late. There’s also the potential to offer a compressed workweek, telecommuting days, or even reduced work schedules.

8. Unite different divisions.

You can host a happy hour, but there’s no guaranteeing that people from different departments will socialize. Instead, be deliberate with your efforts and form cross-functional teams for a project. Exposing people to a wide variety of people can help them see things from different perspectives, which can encourage creativity and greater happiness at work.

9. Establish friendly workspaces.

For many companies, the workplace is just a sea of cubicles — not the most ideal environment for collaboration. Give employees a change of scenery by creating a few shared spaces. Think sofas, armchairs, and maybe a café table or two. It’ll encourage people to interact on a different level, which can foster greater camaraderie.

10. Go beyond the basics.

Again, there’s more to happiness than money. Not that you shouldn’t offer employees a competitive wage, but other benefits can be just as beneficial. Rethink the standard compensation package to include things like dental or optical insurance, wellness programs, gym memberships, tuition reimbursement, transportation benefits, etc.

Happiness in the workplace isn’t about gimmicks or quick fixes; it’s about leadership — and how leadership treats those who work on their teams. If you want a happier workforce, it begins and ends with you. Don’t just implement these strategies and head back to your office. Engage, seek feedback, and make adjustment along the way. After all, when you do the right thing, employees will do right by you.

If you’d like to learn more about improving the work environment, or need additional information on how to bolster employee happiness and satisfaction, please feel free to contact us today. One of our team members would be more than happy to discuss your options or any other employment issue affecting your company.

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