Making employees happy is a hot topic these days because it’s a big challenge to retain and reward good talent.
Take a moment and close your eyes and think of what makes you happy. What came to mind? Your family, friends, the beach?
How about dessert? A study done by David Uanata, associate professor of foods and nutrition at Ashland University, asked participants to rank the foods that made them most happy. Out of sixty-two choices, the top results were ice cream, chocolate, and cake.
To simply summarize the study’s results: desserts make us happy.
This past Sunday was National Ice Cream Day. (I know; some of these holidays aren’t really real, but let’s just go with the flow.) If ice cream makes you and me happy, it probably makes other people happy, too, right? And where is it really important for you and me (and the people we manage) to be happy? Yes, that’s right – at work.
Making your employees happy
Because dessert makes people happy, having an ice cream social at the office might be a good place to start (if you want happier employees). And you should. Making employees happy is a hot topic these days. Unhappy employees often quit their jobs, and that means the companies they leave lose thousands of dollars having to hire new people and train them afresh.
Some unhappy employees choose to stay at their current jobs, but they are disengaged. Disengaged/disinterested employees also lose companies thousands of dollars because of lower productivity and less desire to succeed. Employees who are comfortable with the status quo don’t make successful companies.
Dealing with employee retention, engagement, and turnover
The issues of employee retention, engagement, and turnover boil down to one easy (though not always simple) solution: keeping your employees happy. And since free ice cream is not the only thing you can offer to increase happiness at work, here are three employee engagement ideas that are a bit more substantial that you can offer employees to boost job satisfaction:
- Fix your management style.
- Increase your communication.
- Provide opportunities to grow.
(And yes, each of these “employee engagement ideas” focuses on what you can do differently as a manager.)
#1 – Fix your management style.
Seriously, this is one of the absolute best free “gifts” you could ever give you staff. Why? Because some recent studies say that employees quit their bosses, not their jobs. It’s the not the job they hate; it’s their managers. If you’re a manager, you have tremendous impact on whether or not your employees are happy enough to stay or disgusted enough to leave. Ask yourself what your management style is.
- Are you a micromanager? Maybe you don’t believe you can trust the people you hired to get the job done right.
- Do you ever give your employees the power to choose how they prioritize tasks or what tools they use to complete projects?
- Do you feel like you have to hold onto the reigns really tightly so your employees don’t get out of control?
Did you identify with any of these characteristics? The way managers treat their employees directly affects employee engagement for better or worse. It’s time to fix your management style.
#2 – Increase your communication.
Okay, this one is crucial. Clear, consistent communication is the best way to reassure employees, decrease resistance to change initiatives, and stop office rumors before they start. Sometimes employees gossip with each other because they can’t get the information they need from leadership any other way. If you can’t provide transparent, consistent communication with your employees, and ask for their feedback on a regular basis, get ready for your turnover rates to increase.
#3 – Provide opportunities to grow
Money is not the primary motivator for employees these days. Meaningful work and opportunities to develop professionally seem to outweigh compensation these days (as long as employees are being paid fairly). Research says so. This means you can’t just throw a raise at a disengaged employee and expect all problems to vanish.
Good managers take the time to invest in the professional development of their employees, to listen to their needs and career desires, and then try and work together to make these things happen. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, because better-skilled, higher-engaged employees ultimately produce more profits.
Starting to improve happiness right now
It may sound trite – that you need to make your employees happy – but it’s true. And it’s easy to figure out. It just takes some effort and commitment to make those changes that will not only improve employee happiness, but also reduce turnover and increase engagement.
So whether it’s a free ice cream social to celebrate National Ice Cream Day or some low-cost-yet-worthwhile professional development opportunity, just get started right now by offering things that are guaranteed to produce happier employees.