Tips to Keep Happy Employees and a Productive Workplace

Edge Team
October 27, 2022
min read
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“When employees are happy, they are your very best ambassadors” - James Sinegal, founder and former CEO of Costco

You’ve probably experienced it before. While in a business establishment, the genuine enthusiasm and eagerness to help from the staff has left you with a warm feeling. I’m not talking about the generic ‘How can I help you today?’, but the sense that the employees genuinely love their job.

Amidst the constant headlines about our changing workplaces, the truth remains that keeping employees happy is going to make your life easier as a business owner.

But what can you do to keep employees happy? Is there a secret sauce that you can pour on your management team and produce happy and productive workers?

Well - no. But there are several tried and tested methods of keeping your staff happy. And we’re not talking about giving them a raise (although that might help too).

Why you need happy employees

As a business owner, your focus is usually on the customer and the service you’re offering. It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that your staff have a major influence on both of these elements.

The perception of your company is always going to be in the interactions that your customers have with your team. This applies whether they buy something from you in a bricks and mortar store, or online.

And an employee who genuinely enjoys their job and who loves coming into work on a rainy Monday morning is going to give off a positive impression.

In short, happy employees give good customer service. They want your business to succeed. And their personal conduct or attitude is also much more likely to be positive.

To add to this, a study from Oxford University in the UK found that happy employees are 13% more productive.

OK, so you know why you need happy employees. How can you keep your employees happy at work and enjoy that productive workplace?

How to keep employees happy at work

1. Work/life balance

More than ever, workers are aware of the fact that there is more to life than working for ‘the man’. Yes, work life balance has become a bit of a cliche, or a buzzword. But what does it mean, and how can you actually deliver this to your employees?

  • Giving them clearly defined working hours and not expecting them to work overtime regularly
  • Offer flexible working hours or even work from home options if possible
  • Giving support to members of your team who are parents, such as accommodating time for the school run or kids birthdays
  • Allowing for maternity/paternity leave - the USA is the only Western nation that does not offer paid leave for new parents
  • Offering paid vacation leave and making sure employees use it. Again, the USA is the only Western nation that does not offer guaranteed paid vacation
  • Offer company days off or half days - especially for team successes. For example half day Fridays once a month

2. Reduce stress and burnout

Stress is a killer - and that’s not just a cliche but a fact. Various studies have linked stress to life changing illnesses such as diabetes, tumors, psychiatric problems and more. Our workplaces are our most common sources of stress.

To add to this, the feeling or burnout or stress is one of the major reasons employees give for quitting a job. 84% of Americans have reported that at least one factor at work has been responsible for mental health problems. And, to add to that, 50% of employees who quit their job in 2021 did so because of stress.

So if you’re serious about keeping your employees happy in your workplace, you need to be serious about reducing stress and burnout.

Effective methods to reduce stress at work include:

  • Regularly assessing employee workloads and time management so avoid overburdening them
  • Encouraging regular breaks when at work, and not expecting people to push themselves
  • Focus on productivity and results rather than time spent at a desk or in an office
  • Not expecting overtime, especially unpaid
  • Encourage staff to leave their desks or work area during breaks

3. Recognize and reward hard work

All employees appreciate recognition for their hard work. And the truth is, it’s not difficult to recognize and reward your employees for their excellent service.

Even recognizing a team effort, or rewarding a specific department for achieving their quarterly goals can go a very long way to lifting morale.

Some of the most effective ways to recognize your employees performance, and to reward it, include:

  • Setting achievable targets, perhaps with laddered goals and performance bonuses or rewards
  • Having regular reviews and audits and letting your staff know exactly how they’re doing, or where they could improve
  • Encouraging employees to win customer feedback with the most mentions winning a reward

Incentivizing your employees to earn mentions in reviews is a win win for both your business and the employee. They get recognized for their efforts, you win a review for your business. And, as a bonus, potential customers get an insight into the great service they could expect.

Edge gives your employees a way to track their mentions online, and to collect financial rewards for each mention. After all, what better than personalized feedback with a cash incentive too….?

4. Curate a positive work environment

Let’s be honest here; a positive work environment is going to be number one for most people. Nobody wants to have that sinking feeling when they’re on their way to work. So, how can you encourage a positive workplace?

Some key elements of a positive work culture are:

  • Transparent and accountable management: Your senior management team should be open to feedback and collaborative rather than hierarchical
  • Inclusive and tolerant: Racism, sexism, homophobia or transphobia are behaviors that have no place in the modern workplace. Make sure everyone feels welcome and wanted at your workplace
  • Take complaints seriously: And act on them. From employee concerns about safety to reports of sexual harassment - make it easy to report them and act on them promptly and fairly
  • Encourage positivity: Highlight the good things about your workplace, and give people a reason to smile.

Oh… And smile. Smiling has been shown to be infectious and can help to greatly improve the feeling of a positive work environment.

5. Be open and accountable

Although we mentioned the need to be open and accountable under the positive workplace elements above, it’s worth mentioning as a feature itself.

The old model of the fearsome boss or the hard driving manager is very much a relic of the past. And maintaining this sense of superiority for the management is a source of dissatisfaction for many modern employees.

Both the senior management and line managers need to be transparent with company policy and direction. They also need to be approachable and fair in the case of any issues that the staff may have with either their job role or decisions taken by management.

6. Encourage breaks

Did you know that half of all employees feel like they can’t take their allotted lunch break? Many of us eat lunch at our desks, or simply work through lunch.

Crazy. Why?

Because a break helps us to keep our focus and energy levels up. Not only this, 94% of employees feel happier when they take a proper lunch break. And, interestingly, 9 out of 10 employees say they are more likely to stay in a company where the boss encourages them to take their breaks.

What do we mean by ‘breaks’?

  • Take their allotted lunch time, and any designated smaller breaks
  • Get away from their desk if possible
  • Ideally take some exercise such as a walk to the local park or even hitting the gym

7. Offer (useful) benefits

Increasingly, the perks of a job are being used to sway potential new employees. But treading the line between useful benefits and window dressing is something that business owners need to be aware of.

If you spend any time on Linkedin, you’ve probably seen any number of people moaning that a ping pong table or gym membership doesn’t cut it as a work perk.

What benefits do people want in the post-Covid work landscape?

  • Good health coverage
  • Time off, including paid vacation time
  • Flexible working hours
  • Hybrid working options (work from home some days)
  • Paid maternity/paternity leave
  • Financial assistance (such as student loan assistance)
  • Free snacks/coffee

And yes, the gym membership does make it onto the list along with away days and yoga classes.

8. Allow for career mobility

Whatever the role, employees like to feel like they have potential in the chosen career. OK, you might not be able to offer everyone the potential to be a senior manager within 5 years.

But you might be able to offer a route to more responsibility, better training, more flexible working schedule or more autonomy in their role.

You’ve probably heard the quote from Richard Branson, “Train them well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough that they don’t want to.”

When an employee feels like they’re developing in their role, they’ll be content to stay put - even if they don’t necessarily have the word ‘manager’ in their title.

9. A pleasant workspace

We spend more time at work than we do with our family and friends - a stat you’ve probably heard 100 times.

But if you’re spending more of your waking hours at work than you are at home, your office space environment matters.

This means the workplace needs to be somewhere that isn’t oppressive, with as much natural light as possible, and even pleasant ambient features such as plants, soft music or subtle scents.

A positive color scheme (for example yellows, greens and blues as opposed to grays, reds and blacks), and a lack of clutter will also help make a workplace pleasant.

Not every workplace will be able to tick all of the pleasant workplace boxes. But aiming to make the space as enjoyable as possible will make employees much more productive.

10. Include employees in policy and decisions

As part of keeping management accountable and approachable, it’s more important than ever to include employees in decision making.

No, you’re not going to invite them to board meetings with your corporate head office. And they’re not going to sign off on every decision management makes.

Having regular team meetings where proposals are discussed, feedback encouraged and suggestions welcomed helps employees feel valued. And we all want to feel that we’re more than just wheels in the cog, don’t we?

If you want to keep employees happy in the workplace, they’ll be much more invested in the company if they feel they have a voice.

11. Create a sense of community

We all like to feel like we belong, or like we’ve found our tribe. If you’re looking to encourage employee engagement and boost staff morale, building a sense of community, camaraderie and fun will go a long way.

Regular team building activities are an excellent way to improve employee happiness, and help employees feel refreshed too.

12. The pay rise or bonus

The bottom line is, we’re all looking at our bottom line. And that includes your employees. You can take your team on as many away days as you want, install premium artwork in the bathroom and offer a huge benefits package. But the truth is, employees want to see what they think their work is worth in their monthly paycheck.

Not every company can raise wages every year, as much as we might want to. But another method is using performance related bonuses to supplement your best performing employees incomes.

We mentioned previously how Edge rewards your best performing employees by monetising their online mentions. For each time they win a positive review, they can earn a bonus and link that directly to their Apple or Google Pay accounts.

In summary

In the 21st century, the average workplace needs to consider the wellbeing of the employee more than ever. Although a strong benefits package and a pleasant workplace can help to keep employees happy and productive, more than ever it’s all about work/life balance.

Employees too want recognition for their work, and to feel like they’re an important part of the team.

Using Edge incentivizes employees by offering them bonuses for winning reviews and positive mentions online. After all, we love to feel like we’re making a difference, but it’s even sweeter when we earn some extra pay too.

Engage them as part of the decision making process and enable them to be rewarded for their hard work. It’ll be a win win situation for everyone!

Check out Edge today, and try the platform out for yourself with an Edge demo.

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