We’re more disconnected than ever before in every aspect of life—including work—because the very technology that was built to connect us encourages using messaging apps, text, and social media to communicate rather than calling or walking over to a person’s desk. When employees don’t feel connected to their coworkers or their workplace, they are more likely to leave. In a tight job market, that spells trouble. Employees also report feeling stressed and don’t feel their organizations prioritize their social and emotional wellbeing.
Today is a great time to pause and ask yourself what you do to show employees gratitude for their work. Do you have a recognition tool in place? Do you incorporate time for quick “kudos” into your regular team meetings? True appreciation needs to take place daily, as an integrated part of your culture.
Performance Goals and Personal Aspirations
Performance goals will always be important but take some time to learn about your team members’ personal interests and aspirations, too. This could be a few personal questions during a performance appraisal, or even just a casual chat over lunch. Be sure to genuinely listen when employees open up about their lives. Then you can help them connect their personal goals to work goals.
Making Their Own Decisions
Delegating tasks to team members, and then trusting them to meet your high standards, is tough. Especially when, on top of it all, they’re given room to plan and manage their own time. When employees are allowed to decide when and how they complete a task is actually one of the best ways to show staff appreciation. Empower your team to perform on their own terms by offering them flexible scheduling. This way, employees can pop out to fetch their kids from school or meet a client for lunch. And in return, they’ll be more likely to invest their full energy and focus into their work when they’re in the office.
Recognize Performance and Workplace Behaviors
When it comes to staff recognition, fair and meaningful rewards are everything. And while a larger paycheck is always a welcome addition to any employee’s wallet, there are other more creative and personal ways to show your appreciation.
Make employees feel special on their birthdays by treating them to a meal or throwing them a pizza party, or even offer birthdays off. Recognize high performance all year long by giving employees a thank you card that explains the specific behaviors you’d like to see again.
Remember that praise from peers can be just as important as praise from the boss. Employ an HR management tool to allow employees and managers to give each other feedback. You could even hold competitions where employees are awarded for giving and receiving recognition. When employees feel recognized for their good deeds, those positive feelings spread throughout the company.
Interesting and Challenging
Many jobs require some level of repetition, and most are so clearly defined that they become monotonous. The trick to employee happiness and productivity is creating an environment that’s interesting, challenging, and meaningful for each employee. Inspire employees to expand beyond their comfort zone. Give them tasks and goals somewhat beyond the scope of their job, and then let them know that you’re rooting for them.
You also want to encourage employees to join projects where their talents will shine. This could be anything from continual service improvement initiatives to health and safety committees. Then, let them know that your door is always open for advice, guidance, and feedback.
Healthy Working Relationships
Humans are designed to connect with others and fostering workplace relationships is easy to accomplish. Create online forums or physical spaces for employees from any team to engage and collaborate. Give employees the opportunity to meet colleagues they haven’t worked with before at company socials and annual parties. If team bonding is your priority, create team building activities to help employees understand each other better.
Create a team culture where open and constructive feedback is welcome and possibly rewarded. Honest two-way communication between colleagues and managers build strong relationships and shows employees that their perspective is valued.
Healthy people make happy employees. Employees who take fewer sick days tend to have more energy and concentration to be the best versions of themselves at work. When employees feel like their health is important to the company, they’re bound to feel appreciated. Provide healthy food options at the cafeteria and snacks, like fruit and nuts. Implement a wellness program that rewards employees for healthy living by giving them cash, meal vouchers, or even an overnight stay at a fine hotel or spa.
If these options aren’t within your budget, then give extra paid time off. What better way to encourage work-life balance, and a healthy mind and body—because it’s money earned while reading a novel, going for a hike, or playing with the kids.
Growth and Development
Most employees would stay in their jobs longer if the company invested in their development. So a great way to foster employee happiness in the workplace is providing ongoing learning and development opportunities. Implement an easy-to-use learning management system that allows employees to drive their own learning, in their own time. Also empower employees to practice their new skills in the workplace. Encourage them to participate in projects outside the usual scope of their duties, and let willing employees lead a team meeting or present at a company event. Staff will appreciate the investment in their professional growth, and you’ll benefit from a more talented team.
The most important thing to remember is to show employees that you appreciate them as people, not just warm bodies, and you’ll experience all of the benefits of contended employees. You won’t just get their best efforts while they’re on the clock, you’ll get their loyalty and advocacy when they’re off the clock, too.