As an employer, you need to keep your workforce happy. Don’t assume you can rule over them with an iron fist, berating them every time they make a mistake, and treating them as your personal slaves. When your employees are unhappy, they will be less productive, take more time off work with sickness (real or otherwise), and they may be inclined to take their skills elsewhere.
If you want your company to succeed, you need to make coming to work a pleasant place to be. Giving your staff a five-minute break in the morning and afternoon just isn’t going to cut it, so you need to consider what you are offering. Money may be tight, so a pay rise isn’t always an option, but there are other ways you can boost morale.
Here are some ways you can keep your staff happy, improve morale and ensure better productivity.
Know your staff
Your employees will know your name; you are the boss after all. However, do you know the names of the people you employ? Heads of larger companies don’t always bother getting to know their employees as they are merely the cogs of a larger wheel. You might know from your personal experience how demeaning it can be when somebody consistently gets your name wrong, so make sure your approach is different.
It doesn’t matter whether you are the head of a large, or a small company, getting to know your staff will give them a sense of being valued. An ideal opportunity for doing this is in 1:1 meetings, perhaps when it comes to appraisal. This is the time when you can sit back with your employee and get to know them a little better. Are they married? Do they have children? What hobbies do they have? You aren’t trying to be their friend, rather an employer who cares about them. It will also benefit you. If their performance has been lacking recently, it may be due to personal situations at home. Understanding your employee is the first step in getting them back on track at work.
You should also find out the strengths and weaknesses of the people you employ. This should have been done in the interview process, and you will have assessed the skills of the applicants according to the job roles on offer. However, sometimes jobs evolve, and you may have staff employed in positions to which they are no longer suited. Your staff won’t enjoy coming to work if they feel under equipped to do the job properly, and you won’t get the results you need. Therefore, regularly assess the skills of the people you employ and make sure they are equipped to do the job.
Listen to your staff
You might be the boss, but that doesn’t mean you know everything. As you give feedback at appraisal meetings, you should also allow your employees to have their say in the company. They may have good ideas that will benefit your business, so listen to them and implement anything that is useful. Being on the ground level, your staff are likely to find out better and more productive ways of working than you, especially if you spend most of your day on your ivory throne.
Occasionally an employee may come to you feeling unhappy. Their concerns may be legitimate so give them the opportunity to voice their feelings. Issues could arise, such as workplace bullying, so you should deal with this quickly and effectively. An employee may have trouble at home and ask to take time away from work to deal with it. While this may be problematic, consider agreeing, especially if it’s only a short-term leave of absence.
Ultimately, your workforce are human beings with a voice to be heard. Don’t ignore their ideas or concerns with a glib response. Don’t have a Do Not Disturb sign permanently affixed to your door. Be an employer who has the capacity to listen, no matter how much time it takes. Provided your staff have something valuable and meaningful to say, make yourself available.
Improve the workspace
Depending on your company, find ways to make it a more attractive place to be. For example, if your staff work in an office space, make sure there is plenty of light and fresh air coming in through the windows. Consider repainting the walls if they are scuffed or painted in drab colors. Install a healthy snack vending machine and an office water cooler to make sure your staff are well fed and hydrated throughout the day.
Staff always appreciate a dedicated break room, somewhere they can go and chill out in the middle of a busy day. Make it a fun place to be, such as adding the best air hockey table, or a football table, giving your staff the opportunity to burn off some steam before they return to work. You might need to make some investment in improving the work and break area, but if it keeps your staff happy, your company will benefit.
For some people, the idea of team building is something to be dreaded. Traditionally, this is because employers have taken their staff on some kind of outdoor pursuits course. While this can be useful in getting your staff to work as a team, it can be an unenjoyable activity for some. Therefore, look for activities that will appeal to the majority. For example, a game of laser tag is fun and employs some elements of teamwork.
Sometimes team building is about getting your staff together and creating a space where they can talk and find out more about each other. For example, you could take your staff away for a weekend at a nice hotel. Spend the day going for a walk somewhere scenic giving the opportunity for good conversations and then return to the hotel in the evening for a delicious meal and drinks. Your staff will feel part of a team, and you will all have the opportunity to find out more about each other.
Offer career progression
We all have to start somewhere in life, and finding a job role at entry level is common for most of us. However, it doesn’t mean we want to stay there forever, especially if our skill set begins to outweigh the position. Therefore, keep your staff motivated by offering career progression, ensuring they don’t get bored or take their skills to another employer.
As your employee’s progress, allow for training opportunities as they move into new job roles within your company. Admittedly, your staff might outgrow the roles you can offer, so don’t make it difficult for them to leave for another company. You may be sad to see them go, but at least you can have the satisfaction knowing you have helped them develop.
Show your appreciation
You may not be in the position to give your staff a huge bonus at Christmas time or increase their pay at regular intervals. However, you can reward them in other ways. The simplest, and possibly most effective way is to thank them for a job well done. Knowing they have pleased the boss may just make their day. There are other ways to thank them, such as giving them an extra vacation day or rewarding them with a ticket for a show.
Being appreciated for the hard work they have put into the company will improve your staff’s morale. They will also appreciate you more, giving you added job satisfaction in your role.