Want Happy Employees? Do These 5 Things

In searching for happier employees, managers will often reach for one-off solutions—the company barbecue or office volleyball tournament. There’s nothing wrong with these ideas, but they tend to focus on momentary merriment, rather than the systemic changes that can diminish the deep-seated issues that make for dissatisfied personnel.

happy employees

Want happy employees? First, you’ll need to make that a keystone goal, understand change must come from within the work environment, and strive for change every day. Then try these five tactics.

1. Nurture Positive Social Connections

Positive reinforcement makes for happier employees. It’s not the psychological insight of the decade, yet far too many managers believe negative reinforcement improves performance, while positivity is simply a nicety.

Not true. Positive, instructive feedback reinforces training principles and increases the likelihood of desirable behaviors. Take the time to recognize accomplishments and praise employee progress. If you must provide criticism, frame it as an opportunity for growth.

Then lead by example. Positive social connections shouldn’t only come from the top down, but should expand throughout the office network.

2. Become An Active Listener

Active listening is a communication technique that requires you to concentrate on what a person says. It doesn’t matter if it’s a meeting bullet point, a workplace complaint, or idle banter in the break room. Give your undivided attention to what is said using body language and other nonverbal signals—engage fully, rather than respond reflexively.

The advantages of active listening are immense. It builds trust, helps you comprehend your employees, and shows them you care. It limits misunderstandings, saving time and increasing productivity. Active listening even goes hand-in-hand with positive reinforcement, making it an extremely useful managerial trait.

3. Don’t Micromanage

Yes, you need to lead your employees, but excessive supervision and frequent criticisms aren’t the results of good leadership. Micromanagement comes from a fear of failure and doesn’t just lead to unhappy employees—it produces stress, project bottlenecks, and work-life imbalance.

You have to let go. Exorcising your inner-micromanager will show your staff you trust them to do the job well. Employees who are given decision-making power in a process will take ownership in it, and ownership translates into pride when the work is complete. And proud employees are happy employees.

4. Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Looking at your employees as mere calculations in a company-wide algorithm will inevitably lead to resentment and burnout. Yes, they are there to do a job, but helping employees balance work and life will ensure mental wellbeing that will help them perform at their best during work hours.

There are many ways to manage this. Generous PTO and summer Fridays are possible routes, as is encouraging employees to take sick days when needed. But it can be as easy as letting employees completely disengage from work by resisting the urge to email or text them during off hours. If it can wait until tomorrow, let it wait.

5. Encourage Exercise At Work

You can’t control what employees do during their off hours and, let’s be honest, you can’t control everything they do on the clock. But you can encourage a healthy work environment.

It doesn’t have to be much. Office-wide breaks for stretching or rewards for walking the most during lunch can go a long way. Even small amounts of exercise have been shown to reduce stress, prevent injury, and improve health. All of which leads to happier, more energetic employees and, as a bonus, a lot less absenteeism.

These five strategies will help you create a positive working environment, which will in turn lead to happy employees. It can seem daunting, but it’s well worth the effort. Research shows happiness leads to better health, engagement, productivity, and creativity. And after you’ve achieved a happy work place, feel free to throw in a company outing or two.

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