There are some pretty good reasons why employers want to keep their employees happy: Workers who are satisfied with their jobs and work environments typically have far more positive attitudes. They’re more likely to stay motivated and work to the topmost level of their current capabilities and then attempt to perform even better. They’re also more likely to promote their employers via positive word-of-mouth advertising. Best yet, happy employees don’t usually look for the first opportunity to move on to greener pastures. Instead, they develop long-term plans based on their current positions and invest in helping their employers to achieve long-term goals.
The key to keeping your employees happy is to show them in a variety of ways how much you appreciate their contributions:
Provide Them With Incentives That They Value
Far too often, employers choose benefits and rewards that reflect their budgets rather than what their employees actually value. Although sticking to a budget is obviously necessary, ask your employees to provide you with a list of incentives that they would prefer before you look at your budget for the quarter or year and start spending. One of the best ways to engage your employees in regards to this topic is to email them a link to an online survey that provides them with a list of the most common incentives.
Preferred incentives include cash bonuses, free education, tuition matching, student loan assistance, wellness dollars, paid maternity and paternity leave, full health insurance coverage, a free on-site gym or daycare, retail gift cards and discounts at partner businesses. Paid time off and flexible schedules that include split shifts, late arrival and telecommuting/work-at-home options are two of the most popular preferred incentives. When you design the survey, leave room at the end of the form for employees to offer their own suggestions.
Take the Time to Actively Listen to Them
Your employees need to see that you’re interested in their ideas, opinions and work and personal lives. If possible, greet and talk casually to your immediate subordinates at least once a day. Address all employees in group settings, especially if you have a large business, at least once a month face-to-face or via a live feed.
Additionally, make certain that managers are conducting six- and 12-month individual reviews that do more than outline mistakes. Employees are far happier to hear upfront about new paths for success and benefit, award and promotion opportunities. Whenever you or your managers conduct these reviews, always make an extra effort to look at body language when talking to an employee. More often than not, a person’s body language provides just as much insight into their mood as their words. When an employee speaks to you, show that you’re actually listening by paraphrasing their statements back to them and expressing your interest, concern or another appropriate response.
As part of your active listening strategy, set up an employee “feedback” email address for suggestions. Also, since some employees prefer to suggest ideas anonymously, set up a physical offline box as well at a central location in your business, if applicable. To show that you “hear” what your employees have to say and appreciate their ideas, always respond back to those employees whose contact information is available. Outline what you like about their ideas and how those ideas do or do not match your business plans.
Celebrate Employee Accomplishments Often
Show your employees that you value them by celebrating their accomplishments. If you decide to implement an employee’s suggestion, announce this decision to everyone via a departmental bulletin board, at a special meeting and/or in an e-newsletter and on your company’s website, blog and social media pages.
When showing your appreciation of an employee’s accomplishments, choose the method carefully. Consider matching the act of appreciation to different factors like the extent of the impact that their accomplishment had on your business or the number of years the employee has worked for you. For example, you might present an employee who made a production suggestion that increased efficiency with a certificate that states outright your appreciation for their contribution or an award like a plaque or bonus check. A professional one-on-one interview where the employee outlines how they came up with their idea or succeeded in their position is another fairly popular appreciation strategy. This interview is then published publicly as a feature article in your company’s e-newsletter or as a video on your website, video platform account and company-wide televisions, if applicable. Interviews work because they make employees feel like they’re being given extra special treatment.
For those accomplishments that make the biggest positive impact, consider hosting a party or event to celebrate the contributions of one or more employees. For example, you might take a team out to dinner at a fancy restaurant or host an ocean-side nighttime beach party or large daytime picnic at a park for the team and their families. Other celebration possibilities include an outing to a sporting or entertainment event, backstage passes or VIP seating at a concert or an all expenses paid vacation at a corporation retreat.
You can’t make every employee happy every moment of every day when they’re working for you. That said, these three strategies can create a work environment where your employees feel appreciated by management, upbeat and positive, motivated to do well and capable of success most of the time.
Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive with over 20 years of experience