The old addage goes that a happy worker is a productive worker. But it’s hard to be satisfied with a job, particularly if it’s one involving a cubicle. The soul-draining, vacuous space where you fill out meaningless reports and go about a routine that feels endless; the drudgery of day to day business, the lexicon of corporate speak that’s supposed to sound like English yet somehow feels foreign can be beyond alienating.
In the 1999 cult hit Office Space, three corporate employees plot to rip off fractions of pennies from their boss with every transaction (it’s the same plot as Superman III). One, played by Ron Livingston, becomes so dissatisfied with his life he just decides to stop working. He doesn’t quit, per se, he just decides not to go. As a result, in a comic turn, he becomes valued by the higher ups who feel they aren’t challenging him enough.
We all dream of the perfect job – one that allows you to follow your dream while also providing for you and your family. For the most part, such a position doesn’t exist. But bosses can make life easier and more entertaining for their underlings to make them feel they aren’t just a cog in the wheel. Here are just eight creative ways to keep employees happy.
1. Recognize Their Progress
Nothing says a concerned and caring boss than one who pays attention and takes notice of an employee’s efforts. Recognizing achievements is a strong indicator of effective workforce management. Too often, the work you do for a company gets lost in a myriad of paperwork. If the boss singles you out, tells you he or she appreciates something you’ve accomplished, you know you’re making a difference.
However, this comes with a caveat: there’s only so many times you can give someone a thumbs up without any further incentive. When complementing them, you may also want to discuss what you have in mind for them in the future.
2. Plan Team Building Activities
This is a bit of a double-edged sword. Some employees will always prefer to keep their social and work lives separate. But if the activities you plan are actually engaging and fun, you might just win some over. Paintball excursions, a day at the movies, anything unrelated to work might allow them a chance to co-mingle and genuinely enjoy each other’s company without the spectre of business hanging over their heads.
3. Don’t Assign Responsibility, Offer It
This, like much of the business world, is rooted in communication. No one likes to take marching orders. So rather than tell an employee he has an assignment and deadline, pitch it to them like a possibility. A real go-getter will get excited at the chance to prove themselves. It’s a managerial style that invites friendliness and cooperation, as opposed to a dictatorship.
4. Celebrate Milestones
It’s always nice to get recognized for your accomplishments, no matter how minor. If an employee is coming up on a year or several year anniversary of working for you, take notice. Remember birthdays, wedding engagements. It’s healthy to keep a bit of a distance just in case the employee values their personal time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make great inroads in acknowledging the important things.
5. Be Consistent
Consistency is important for how to keep employees happy. There’s nothing more irritating than a boss who flip flops. By setting clear goals and never wavering much, employees will feel more secure and confident in the work they are providing. This will ensure your business runs smoothly.
6. Allow Flexibility
There’s no denying it’s important for employees to show up on time and deliver their work in a timely fashion, but things happen. Make allowances for family emergencies, personal stress or other issues that may imfringe upon a deadline. Raking an employee through the coals will only lead to substandard product. But an employee who understands you’re willing to work with them, not against them, will feel better about what they’re turning in.
7. Offer More Vacation Time
In order to keep employees happy, always reward hard work. Offer a few extra days off to your top performers. Not only will it inspire them to continue to do their best work, but other employees will see there is gold at the end of the arduous rainbow.
8. Encourage Communication
It’s important for employees to see you as the boss, but that doesn’t mean you have to be uptight. Light conversations in the breakroom, over-the-watercooler talk about the latest news or hit TV show can create a relaxed environment. The more common ground you can find with an employee, the better. If you loosen up enough, you might find yourself actually having a good time.
9. Offer Benefits
There are ways to reward employees without just giving them a raise. You may want to supplement their salary by assisting in other areas of their lives. One can offer an extra level of life or health insurance or ensure their disability is protected. Dental, optical and other areas of wellness are also on the table. Anything you can do to protect your employees’ health and safety, you should strive to achieve.