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It’s not (all) about the money, money, money: 5 ways to keep your employees happy

It’s not (all) about the money, money, money: 5 ways to keep your employees happy

Some of your employees seem to grumble about the smallest annoyances and frequently leave at the stroke of five o’clock. It feels like the entire team has developed “a case of the Mondays.”

Employee happiness (or lack thereof) is getting a lot of attention these days. Although the Great Recession has ended, some employers continue to struggle in the current economic climate. Perhaps layoffs and benefits cuts over the past few years have damaged overall morale.  And with improved economic forecasts signaling renewed hiring and recruiting in the coming quarters, employers may experience increased employee turnover.

With an eye to retaining key talent, how do you make a change to a more collaborative, productive and happier workplace atmosphere?

The following five methods tend to keep employees happy. And, not all of them require raises or added perks.

  1. Pick your battles. No workplace is perfect. However, a supervisor who concentrates on petty problems will train employees to do the same.  By keeping everyone’s attention focused on the bigger picture, employees will follow your example and choose collaborating over griping.
  2. Give feedback often. You should not rely on an annual performance appraisal (which employees may dread) as your big opportunity to provide feedback to workers.  Supervisors should communicate regularly with employees regarding their performance goals, successes and contributions to the organization.
  3. Communicate your employee’s role in the organization’s overall success.  Employees that are kept in the dark regarding an organization’s plans for success can have a difficult time visualizing their overall worth and role within the organization.  Energize employees by allowing them opportunities for working cross-departmentally with others in the organization.  Employees tend to be more engaged and fulfilled within their current role if they become invested in the organization as a whole. If an employee wishes to stretch into other roles, encourage him or her and offer any available career development opportunities.
  4. Encourage a work/life balance. A productive work life requires as a foundation a healthy off duty life. Happy employees tend to find fulfillment in work as well as in other areas. However, the stress of meeting responsibilities in all areas of life can lead to employee frustration and, sometimes, resignation. Many employers have found that they don’t have to sacrifice productivity for happiness. For example, by investing in workplace flexibility programs, which emphasize alternative workplaces and flexible schedules, employers may find that employees tend to be more productive. Managing work/life balance also makes for a happy team:  workaholics make life very difficult for co-workers; the same is true for slackers.
  5. OK, it’s a little about the money. Employers should focus on planning and providing employee rewards programs, but not just monetary ones. Total rewards (base pay, incentive pay, perks and benefits) can make employees happy. Employers should design their compensation systems with a view to retaining top performers. Losing key talent can sometimes be attributed to a perceived (even if not actual) disparity between an employer’s compensation system and the average compensation in the marketplace. In other words, in some cases, it may take a bigger paycheck to make the world dance.

This was a joint collaboration between Amanda Walters, a specialist freelance writer, and Marta Moakley, the legal editor for portions of the employee management section of XpertHR.com. Prior to joining XpertHR, she worked as an Assistant Attorney General with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, and as an Equal Opportunity Specialist for the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.  She also served as law clerk to the Hon. Paul C. Huck, Senior US District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


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