In fact, the Wall Street Journal just published an article explaining how thanking your employees makes you a better leader. And, study after study after study shows that happy employees are more productive and loyal. And, appreciated workers are ten times more likely to work late when needed and 30 times more likely to refer new hires.
According to Business Insider, workers who enjoy their jobs achieve their goals 31% more often and are 36% more motivated than those who aren’t satisfied. And, happiness also impacts health (happy employees have drastically fewer sick days), safety (fewer on the job accidents) and ultimately increases profitability. Plus, companies that focus employees on the meaning and purpose of their work had a 60% drop in absenteeism and a 75% reduction in turnover.
So, why do so many companies and employees report that workers are unhappy?
According to a Gallup poll, 70% of U.S. workers are disengaged and feel overworked and under-appreciated.
I believe there are some very simple solutions to improve employee engagement and worker satisfaction and they don’t all involve costly pay increases – although that doesn’t hurt either.
RECOGNIZE GOOD WORK PUBLICLY:
My first and favorite example is from a former employer, the global PR agency, Porter Novelli. During each monthly staff meeting, once the business at hand was completed, the managing director would open the meeting up for “kudos.” At this time, anyone who wanted to could say anything positive about anyone else. A senior supervisor might acknowledge the staffer who worked late to help meet a deadline. A junior staffer might acknowledge how a colleague always has a smile for everyone, no matter how busy she gets. With every “kudo” given, the managing director would make a quick note, which often played a role in later reviews.
But, this wasn’t really about performance reviews. And, a lot of times, it wasn’t even about someone going above and beyond the ask. It was about taking five minutes once a month to let employees publicly compliment and thank each other. And, I can tell you, it mattered. Say what you want about financial rewards, recognition remains one of the strongest motivators to this day. And, because the kudos came from colleagues, it created a greater sense of family, togetherness and community internally. It is a practice I co-opted from Porter Novelli and have used ever since.
Remember, it’s the little things that always matter the most.
SHARE GOALS, PLANS AND, YES, EVEN CHALLENGES:
People want to feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to feel they have a say in their own futures and when they are included in the company’s plans and future direction, they are more engaged and more committed to helping achieve those goals.
This is especially important when times are rough. When you engage your employees in the problems you are facing and present your plans to address them, your staff will be more empathetic to changes and may even surprise you with their own cost-saving or money-making solutions.
Not involving your workers in the company’s future creates a massive chasm between the senior leadership and the staff. The result: rumors, misinformation, resentment and high turnover.
HELP YOUR EMPLOYEES GIVE BACK:
This is especially important with regard to younger workers (20-33) who are among the most service-minded demographic we’ve seen since the 1960s.
If, as a company, you take the time to embrace giving and create opportunities for workers to get out of the office and engage in community outreach programs, you will see greater teamwork and even create opportunities for people who don’t normally work together to engage with each other. I’ve personally seen this happen and the result is greater unity throughout the entire office and a reduction of the cliques that can cause strife.
In fact, according to Forbes, companies that focus on cause integration dramatically increase employee morale, engagement, company pride and productivity. And, corporate community engagement adds an average of $2,400 value per employee to the organization based on decreased turnover and increased employee engagement.
If you want help in putting together a corporate giving program, check out Points of Light for ideas.
OFFER TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Also according to Business Insider, 1/3 of U.S. employees have received no training or development opportunities.
Everyone wants to succeed in their job. I guarantee you, even your most disgruntled worker doesn’t show up in the morning choosing to fail. But, when they aren’t given the tools to succeed or grow and climb the proverbial ladder, their natural desire to succeed will send them elsewhere.
It is important to regularly ask your employees about training they need and to send them to conferences and provide other professional development tools. Employees know when you are investing in them and they will deliver a return on that investment.
In fact, I haven’t yet released the details of this study, but Pinpoint Market Research recently asked twenty-somethings in the U.S. about what they want from employers. Professional development topped the list. (Look for the details on that study in a couple of weeks).
So, the bottom line is a happy employee means a better, stronger company.
Try these tactics and even ask your workforce what they want from you. You may just be surprised by their answers.