Employee happiness and wellbeing is at the forefront of employers’ concerns with many trying to find new ways to ensure their workforce is content. A happy workforce has the potential to be more productive, invested and efficient, therefore improving the business as a whole. Fortunately there are many ways in which to improve staff happiness, ranging from small changes to bigger developments. Whatever the size of your company, it’s possible to boost morale and happiness in a matter of hours.
While promotions and pay rises are important, many employees value honesty and transparency above most other things. Being transparent doesn’t cost anything and just takes ongoing open dialogue between management and staff, but can go a long way in forging good relationships and improving feeling amongst employees. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage discussion.
Ask employees what they want or what improvements can be made in areas such as the working environment and career development. Through either surveying or directly asking for input during meetings employees will be able to convey any ideas for improvements which can then be considered by management.
3. Stop time wasting
Among the biggest stresses for employees is a lack of time and tight deadlines. Helping employees free up time by cutting down the number and duration of meetings can enable them to spend more time on their workload and reduce the amount of stress they are under. Equally, ensuring that the office environment is clutter free with organised and efficient systems and processes will increase productivity, save time and result in happier individuals.
Encouraging your staff to form good working relationships with one another can increase happiness levels and boost their mood. Employers can help social relationships form by arranging team events or lunches, creating communal break areas and celebrating birthdays, for example.
A sense of camaraderie and community can leave everybody feeling more involved and comfortable in their work environment.
5. Switch things up
Breaking up routine can give employees a real boost and needn’t be a huge gesture. Something as simple as bringing in cake for everybody to share during a tea break can be enough of a change and surprise to give people a kick. While it’s only a small token it helps employees to realise that they’re appreciated, whilst also providing an extra opportunity to socialise.
6. Sufficient training
As an employer it’s your duty to ensure your staff are adequately trained and have the skills needed to undertake their role. However, to go that extra mile and boost happiness further, you should also look to develop your employees’ skills. This will not only be beneficial to the individual but to the company as a whole. Career development is something most people have at the back of their mind, therefore helping them to achieve their goals and further their knowledge will improve your business as a by-product, meaning everyone’s a winner.
A creative and welcoming environment shouldn’t be underestimated and is something most employees desire. The working environment can often impact upon employees’ feelings and happiness, therefore creating an environment to cultivate a good company culture is in everybody’s best interest. Making changes to ensure workspaces aren’t cramped, lighting is correct and that there are injections of personality can help to create a productive and happy working environment.
8. Recognise and reward
It’s important to recognise and thank employees for good work, whether in person, via email or in a staff meeting. Giving due credit makes employees feel valued and realise that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
From time to time people make mistakes, in order to make for a happier workforce allow employees to learn from their mistakes and don’t undermine staff in public. Taking employees to one side and talking through the mistake, showing them where they went wrong and suggesting alternative courses in future will make them more likely to learn from it. This will reduce the amount of bad feeling regarding the error, both in personal terms and in terms of possible resentment towards management.
Not only do employees need to feel happy in their position but they should also feel empowered. As a manager it’s your duty to encourage your staff to have confidence in themselves, by showing that you believe in them and value their input. Encourage the exchange of ideas and knowledge and show them the bigger picture. The more of an idea employees have of how their work affects the overall business, the more involved they will feel.
While there is always a chain of command, many employees prefer to have autonomy over their daily workload than to be micromanaged. Few people respond well to being told exactly what to do and when, instead most respond better to being given independence. This shows that they are trusted to do their jobs well and without constant monitoring, improving happiness.
Make yourself available to staff to encourage trust, openness and ongoing communication. Take some time to get to know your employees on a more personal level. This will make you more approachable to staff and help them to feel more valued and content with their positon.
13. The commute
For a large portion of people the commute can be a daily source of stress and anxiety, whether due to traffic, overcrowding on public transport or expense. While there will more than likely be a need to commute you could do something to alleviate the stresses of the situation. Helping to arrange carpools, organising group transport, allowing flexitime and telecommuting are all ways in which you can aid staff and make them feel like they have more control over their daily commute.
14. Health and wellbeing
A healthy workforce tends to be a happy workforce. While you might think that there isn’t much you can do to help this, small measures such as providing fruit bowls and encouraging group physical activities can help. Lunch time games of rounders can help blow the cob webs off, while exercising is also proven to have some positive effects on mental health with endorphins helping to alleviate anxiety and depression.
More flexibility is something many workers crave; if possible introduce flexi-time and allow employees to fit their working hours in on their own clock. Less rigid working hours will allow individuals to get a good work-life balance and ensure they are happy with all aspects of their lives, which should also boost productivity.
Overall, there are many ways to improve staff happiness – from changes in how business is conducted, such as encouraging open and transparent discussion and making health and wellbeing a priority, to the more occasional perks like team socials. Improving the happiness of your employees needn’t cost the earth and can be achieved by making small changes that will ultimately lead to bigger gains. But best of all, you can start to improve how your workforce feels in just a day!
Will Bridges is an HR Consultant at Unum, one of the UK’s leading financial protection insurers. Unum specialises in providing Income Protection through the workplace, and is committed to helping the UK’s workforce get a back-up plan. Visit them online at: www.unum.co.uk