Nothing should make an employer happier than to have happy employees. For one, it makes life a lot easier when you don’t have to deal with a bunch of malcontent grumps who do their work grudgingly and race each other to the door when the day is over. For another, happy employees are good employees who are invested in the company’s success and contribute meaningfully to the bottom line.
So, how do you create that happy workforce? Here’s what people say makes them love their jobs, and what you can do to make it happen:
The Job Challenges Them
People who love their jobs say that their work challenges them. It keeps their minds active, teaches them new things, and presents them with ways to use their talents and skills to solve problems and do good work. An employee who’s bored and not engaged is someone who soon loses interest, starts putting in less effort, and ultimately starts looking for somewhere else to work.
Some people are wired to make challenges for themselves, but even at that, they need the room to do it. For them, and for the ones who may need even more encouragement, you’ve got to provide the opportunities for independent thinking, creative problem-solving, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with the successful outcomes they’ve created by it.
That means supervising without hovering. It means asking for employees’ input on tough assignments. It means letting people run with new ideas to see where it takes them. It means giving them opportunities to grow and learn new skills that will help them be better employees and individuals.
It also means that you need to create career pathways and make employees aware of the promotional opportunities that await them. Identify key employees and prepare them with additional training for advancement into more and more challenging leadership positions in your organization.
They Feel Connected
What’s one of the first things you do when you meet someone? You ask what he or she does. Like it or not, in so many ways a job defines a person. The workplace is where people spend at least half their waking hours most days, and for many, it consumes their thoughts for a far greater time than that. So it makes sense that people are happiest if they’re proud of where they work and are committed to the products or services the company produces.
What you can do to make sure your employees feel connected is to keep them informed on what the company is doing and what the future plans are. They should be aware of the company vision and mission statement and actively involved in implementing it.
You should do everything you can to make employees know that they’re part of the company’s successes and progress, whether it’s through a newsletter, team-building activities, or social get-togethers outside of the workplace.
They Know You Want Them to Succeed
No one wants to stay on the same rung of the ladder forever. People want to know that there’s a pathway to promotion, and it’s up to you to lay out the steps and requirements for it. Mentoring your employees brings out the best in them, which is a total win-win. Not every position on the organization chart has another title to step up to, but there’s always a way to offer greater responsibility and acknowledgment.
One way to help employees reach new heights is to offer full or partial tuition reimbursement for graduate school. An advanced degree is an investment that pays dividends to both the employee and the company. With the wide variety of options currently available, if it’s the best fit, an employee can even enroll in an online MBA program in California, for example, no matter where you’re located.
Other ways to let employees know you’re invested in their success is to begin an employee recognition program, give employees the opportunity to attend outside seminars and conferences, or bring in speakers with professional insight into your field or the specialties within it.
They Respect Their Bosses and Like Their Coworkers
Humans are social animals and even if they love their work, they can’t help but be affected and influenced by the people around them. People who are happy at work don’t have bosses whom they perceive as difficult or unreasonable. They also don’t have bosses who are unapproachable or, even worse, invisible.
Good bosses inspire their employees and serve as examples. They listen, offer constructive feedback, and give credit where it’s due. If you think you need to look in the mirror, there’s plenty to read on the subject.
As for coworkers, happy employees feel as if they’re part of a team working toward the same thing. The workplace doesn’t have to provide free lunches and ping pong tables, but a sense of camaraderie and mutual trust comes from knowing everyone is treated fairly and as individuals with value and talents to contribute. Happy employees feel as if they’re united toward a common goal rather than against a common enemy.
It doesn’t take extraordinary efforts to create an environment that makes for happy employees. It only takes the willingness to see them as people who want to do their best for you and to provide the means to make that happen.
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