If you Google a phrase along the lines of “happy employees are productive employees” you’re going to get screens and screens of studies and articles indicating that it’s not just a cute phrase – employees who are happy at work are more productive.
So how do you make your gang happy? The obvious answer is to pay them a whole lot of money. But if you’re a smaller business you simply won’t have the bank to back this kind of strategy.
Let’s take a look at some other quick ideas that can help keep a smile on your employees’ faces if you can’t afford to pay everyone big-business sized salaries.
When everything else is off the table, a hearty handshake can make a difference. Acknowledge when an employee goes above and beyond even if it’s in just a small way like getting a bunch of reports collated ahead of the estimated time.
Not only does this make the employee feel valued, but it’s noticed by other employees who will want to do that little bit extra to get the boss’ positive attention. One solid slap on the back can boost productivity across the board.
Get to know your employees as people
It’s pretty rare to find employees who want to be treated purely as the rank and file. Even if you’re not a people person it can pay to get to know your gang a little bit, learning perhaps about hobbies or some big event coming up in their children’s lives.
Not only will this make your employees happier, but it can help you sort out the strengths and weaknesses of your people. For example, Todd might turn out to have the knack for talking with clients, but Julianne is the one you want when it comes to sweet-talking clients into paying up their dues.
Enable their workflows
Rules for the sake of rules are suffocating. Can you streamline a workflow by shaving off rules that don’t accomplish anything other than getting in your employees’ way?
On the flipside, what can you do to make your employees’ workflows run smoother? Is there a piece of equipment they could use? Would they be less harried if you were outsourcing the number-crunching so your people could focus on the bigger tasks?
This goes for busywork too. Everybody knows when they’ve been assigned a pointless task. It makes them feel worthless, especially when other employees have important tasks. Make sure they know their work matters and is important to your company.
Be a mentor
Employees, even ones who love their current positions, almost always want to be growing and expanding their skills and what they have to offer.
There’s no win in it for you if you try to stand in their way. You might be concerned that with a broader skill set or set of responsibilities they will look attractive enough to the competition to be poached away. That’s fair enough, but if it seems like you’re deliberately standing in the way of the employee’s growth they’re going to resent you and they will start searching for other workplaces all on their own.
However if you’re encouraging them to get better via seminars, guest speakers, classes, etc. then there’s a much greater chance that they’re going to be grateful to you and will resist the siren songs of your competition.
Instill a purpose
You’ll notice a morale boost if you frame your company’s purpose as an outward facing benefit as opposed to just, “We do X” or “We make Y”.
BOSS’ “We do X” is “BOSS is an accounting outsourcing company.” But what we really do (and what we all really believe) is “BOSS enables companies to expand.” Our goal is to help you achieve your goals, and it gives us a good feeling whenever one of our clients informs us that they were able to expand because of the money and time we saved them.
So instead of your business doing X or making Y, figure out how you make your customers’ or clients’ lives better. Instill this message in your employees and watch them become a more productive and happier team.