Okay, maybe not. Let’s face it—most of us would prefer to live off our multimillion-dollar lottery winnings. But there’s a lot employers can do to ensure happy, engaged workers—and it’s no longer just a bonus. In the current candidate-driven market, making your workplace a healthy, happy environment is a must.
There are many paths you can take to achieve workplace nirvana, but in today’s work culture, a few options stand out.
To have engaged employees, employers have to be engaging. This means asking questions, being open to answers, and having clear communications channels. Sending out a yearly survey, or a monthly newsletter with the same old quarterly numbers and open job posts just won’t do. Empower your managers to talk to their employees about what would make them more productive. Do targeted surveys on both key aspects of workplace happiness (work-life balance, flex time, commutes, benefits, etc.), and key segments of your workforce–then follow up. The only thing worse than not asking your employees what they think, is ignoring their answers. Not only does this mean you wasted time and effort doing the initial surveys, but you’ve just shown your employees that their feedback doesn’t matter.
If you are having trouble retaining or recruiting talent, have you looked into your flexible work options? Workers today, particularly the millennial demographic, prize the work-life balance given to them by things like flex time and remote work. Multiple studies (such as this two-year Stanford study or this survey) show that employees who work remotely enjoy higher productivity and engagement than office workers.
Employees are happier when they feel they can communicate their concerns. If it seems like invitations to speak up are met with crickets, you may want to ask yourself if employees feel they can be honest about their concerns. Is there a fear-based management issue? Have you asked for constructive feedback in a way that makes it clear that constant improvement is important to the company?
Or rather, you should do the recognizing. Employees want to know their work is appreciated. Make sure you regularly thank your team members for their hard work, and don’t wait to give praise until the annual reviews.
A common mistake made when it comes to workplace recognition is only recognizing the same few targets over and over again. If the only awards and accolades go to the top sales person, the biggest rebranding effort, or the manager of the biggest event, you leave out a lot of important people in your enterprise. Make sure to recognize things such as teamwork, improvement, and representation of core values at all levels. Otherwise, you’ll have a few shining stars and a lot of resentful employees.
If your employees don’t see the big picture, how can they fully appreciate their own contribution? And if an employee thinks their work doesn’t matter, how likely are they to give it their all? Managers at all levels need to be cognizant of their employees’ effects on the whole of the company—and make sure their employees are aware of it too! It can’t just be platitudes, either. Be prepared to demonstrate just how much impact each worker or team has.