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Conventional wisdom has always suggested employee pay was the key to productive and happy workers. I can tell you firsthand that this isn’t close to accurate, but it’s probably best left to professionals to prove my long-held theory, right?
A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick reported interesting findings that might defy long-held conventions when it comes to happy employees and ever-increasing salaries.
According to the study, happiness led to a 12-percent spike in productivity while unhappy workers accounted for a 10-percent drop.
While no one would argue that a well-paid employee is typically happier, the gains appear that they are short-lived. In fact, in there exists a theory – called the Hedonic Treadmill – that outlines this effect. In essence, the theory states that a person only receives a short-term boost in overall happiness after acquiring things.
From my experience, it seems the best approach might be a combination of increasing worker happiness as well as ensuring they are well paid for their effort. The first part of this winning formula is as easy as opening your checkbook, but how do you make your employees happier?
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Let them choose where they work in the office.
At this point we all know that, no two employees are the same. The same goes for their preferred seating within the office. While some would prefer to be in a closed room or office, others prefer to work in a more communal workspace, or closer to the window, the center of the room, or even the bathroom.
If you really want to mix things up start offering communal workspaces as well as floor space, bean bag chairs, or private offices based on the preferences of your employees. Or, even better, give employees the freedom to change their mind day-to-day without actually assigning anyone a desk or workspace and opting for a sort of free range approach.
A Gallup Poll - from April of 2015 - showed that employee engagement is higher amongst employees who had direct communication with their managers either face-to-face, on the phone, or digitally. The same poll showed managers who use a combination of the three methods actually have the most success when it comes to engaging employees.
If you have employees that are just sleepwalking through their day, it’s not enough to be approachable; you have to be someone they want to talk to in the first place. The benefits of employee engagement start with being an active manager who is willing to commit the time necessary to garner the attention and respect of the workforce.
Present them with opportunities to work on new things, even if they are small.
To feel needed, you have to first feel valued and it should go without saying that feeling valued starts with being trusted to work with some level of autonomy.
This is where I like to assign employees tasks that I might normally give to someone else, or just do myself. By including them in these sorts of projects, you help to foster a feeling of importance. I mean, you wouldn’t trust just anyone with this task; would you?
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Ask their opinion and take it into consideration.
Don’t ask just to ask. Ask for an opinion and actually consider how this option would shape the outcome.
Many ideas are written off too early in the brainstorming process. In fact, I can name two billion-dollar companies off the top of my head that were written off by many investors shortly after launching – Instagram and Twitter.
It doesn’t hurt to consider an idea or opinion for a moment longer than you normally would, and who knows, it could turn into something truly spectacular. You just have to be open to the possibilities.
Give feedback on their work.
This is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t spend a lot of time here.
The reason feedback is so important is two-fold.
- It takes us right back into the overall theme here, which is engagement. When you give feedback it means that you noticed, and that you’d like to enter into a conversation about what works, what doesn’t, and how to move forward and improve.
- It improves not only your relationship with the employee, but also their work. Many managers are quick to criticize, but few offer up actionable steps for improvement or encouragement for a job well done.
When I give feedback I choose my words carefully to remain objective but without being overly critical and I always try to leave the exchange on a high note. This approach works well for me and shows employees that I respect them enough to be straightforward.
Remember, a happy employee is a productive employee. Before you consider another round of raises or bonuses to peek the interest of an un-inspired workforce it might be time contemplate what’s leading them to lackluster results in the first place.