High employee turnover is the headache of every HR department and costs US companies nearly $11 billion a year collectively. Additionally, it is estimated that lost productivity from unhappy and disengaged workers cost businesses up to $550 billion annually! Those numbers are a striking recognition of the consequences of widespread unhealthy work environments.
Cultivating a happy workplace is, quite literally, priceless. Relatively small investments that are strategically aimed toward fostering a positive corporate culture have great returns. Enhancing the wellbeing of the entire workforce should be a priority for all businesses. Companies can minimize the expense of employee turnover while greatly enhancing profitability. The happiness and satisfaction of your employees directly correlate to customer loyalty and retention.
Fortunately, there are simple changes in policy and managerial style that foster a healthy work environment and that do not require large up-front investments. Other policies, like extended health benefits and generous vacation policies, are a bit costly but create an enormous return on investment when it comes to employee satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.
Here is a list of seven simple ways to cultivate a happy workplace.
1. Recognize the Individual
In companies that have a lot of employees, individuals can quickly become another number on the payroll. They can easily slip between the cracks and lose their identity as an individual.
One of the easiest changes that you can foster in your workplace culture is to recognize who is working for you. This goes beyond learning names and if they have kids or not. This requires creating a managerial force that is in tune with every employee on their team. Managers are fundamental for setting the example of actually getting to know one another. They set the precedent for all employees to treat each other as individuals with interests, hobbies and lives outside of the workplace.
Many companies have implemented innovative strategies such as “coffee dates” or team-building activities outside of work. But seeing your employees for who they are can be as simple as spontaneous relaxed conversations in the hallway.
Fostering a sense of mutual understanding and, consequently, empathy is an excellent starting point in the journey towards cultivating a happy workplace.
2. Offer Flexibility Between Work and Life
In getting to know your employees, you get a sense of what their needs are outside of the office. Do they have young children? Special health needs? Elderly parents? All of these circumstances and many more can create stress and distraction while an employee is on the job. Managers should be ready to discuss these issues with their staff in an open and non-judgemental manner. Workplace policies should be flexible enough to allow individual employees at all levels to find solutions to life’s challenges.
By offering flexible scheduling, options to work from home, paid sick days and vacation time – workers will feel supported in their effort to find a sustainable work/life balance.
“When workers feel supported, loyalty will develop. With loyal employees, a company can count on lowering turnover rates and increasing general productivity.” — Diana Adjadj, a writer at Studicus.
3. Foster Healthy Communication
One of the most fundamental aspects of a positive work environment has to do with communication.
Healthy communication starts with good interpersonal relationships and is based on trust between employees and management. It is essential for a productive workplace.
One step that managers can take is to establish an “open door” policy where employees are encouraged to be proactive in voicing their ideas, needs, concerns, and opinions.
Other strategies can include implementing regular meetings to check-in with members of the team, as a team. Group meetings should encourage creative solutions to problems, transparency among team members, and clarity on the status of different projects.
Employees should also be encouraged to seek out one another to ask for and offer help without stigma or embarrassment. Exchanging help and being part of an environment where mutual support is the norm improves relationships and increases happiness in the workplace. Givitas is one example of a network-based tool that can be utilized to foster this type of productive communication.
4. Encourage Your Team to Ask for and Offer Help
Asking for help is hard to do, but it is essential to a healthy and happy work life. Have you created an environment where people feel safe asking for help on a work-related task, or do people think they have to keep their heads down and find the answers for themselves? When people do ask for help, do they get it in a quick, easy, and efficient manner? (Here’s a free checklist that can help you figure it out.)
Just as important, are people willing to give generously of their time, advice, and experience when someone does ask? Research shows that people who are “givers” at work have better careers, and companies that employ givers have better financial outcomes, so a culture of reciprocity can actually impact the bottom line!
5. Set Clear Goals and a Path of Advancement for Every Employee.
When a new employee joins your team, it is incredibly important they start their new position with clearly defined goals. All employees, especially new ones, need to know that their work is meaningful and directly contributes in some way to the functioning of the company. Be sure to explain the importance of these goals in the larger context of the functioning of the company. Help your staff to feel like they are an important part of the big picture. This will give them a sense of meaning and purpose in their work.
“Employees must also know they can anticipate future opportunities within the company. This provides inspiration and motivation. The vast majority of workers report that opportunities for advancement and professional growth within the company directly impact their overall engagement and happiness in the workplace.” — Marie Fincher, a head of content at Trust My Paper and Grab My Essay.
6. Invest in Employee Benefits
More than 70% of professionals have reported that increased benefits would increase their satisfaction at work. Investing in employee benefits is a worthwhile expenditure when you consider the costs of a disengaged and unhappy workforce.
When an employee can count on a comprehensive and affordable health plan, pension plan, paid vacation days and paid sick time they feel a sense of gratitude and loyalty to their employer. Additional benefits such as on-site childcare, gym passes, and sponsored professional development will only increase their job satisfaction.
Employees report greater happiness overall in the workplace with companies that offer benefits that directly support their workers in achieving a healthy work/life balance. There is no greater show of empathy than providing benefits that help staff maintain their overall wellbeing.
7. Show Appreciation and Gratitude
Even if your company cannot offer an amazing benefits package, you can still show your appreciation and gratitude to your employees for their contribution to the company.
This can be as simple as saying a sincere “thank you” when you notice an employee going the extra mile to collaborate on a project.
Genuine appreciation for each individual on your team and the work they do has ripple effects on staff morale and workplace happiness. Making your employees feel valued is a free and simple way to cultivate a happy workplace.
For companies that want to go the extra mile, managers can organize special events such as workplace brunches, special snacks, or personalized gifts to show gratitude for a job well done. Tune in to the culture of your team to plan an appropriate show of thanks.
Cultivating a happy workplace culture starts at the top tier of any organization. Upper management is ultimately responsible for setting an example on employee interactions. They should embody the workplace culture that your organization hopes to achieve.
Seeing coworkers and employees as individuals is the starting point towards building relationships founded on mutual respect and understanding. Creating a supportive environment is possible with the right attitude, tools, policies, and know-how.
An engaged, inspired and highly productive workforce is possible when employees are happy. Investing in your employees’ happiness is an investment in the stability and profitability of your business.
About the Author
Bridgette Hernandez is a Master in Anthropology who is interested in writing and is planning to publish her own book in the near future. She works with professional writing companies such as BestEssayEducation and WowGrade as and as a writer, Brid also does some editing work WritingJudge. The texts she writes are always informative, based on qualitative research but nevertheless pleasant to read. Brid occasionally writes blogs for FlyWriting.