A happy worker is a productive worker, so they say. Well, it would appear that the evidence supports this claim, but what can employers do to foster a happy workplace for their staff? Here are 11 suggestions to get you started.
1. Try to Live in the Shoes of Others
Empathy can be a difficult skill to master. Even trained psychologists have a difficult time of it sometimes. Still, it is not difficult to see that things like relationship break-ups and divorce, illness or drastic changes in environment are rather stressful for co-workers or employees. Do not be surprised if an otherwise model worker 'lashes out' under such circumstances, especially if pushed. A little understanding, a cup of tea and a sympathetic ear can prove to work wonders for those who are feeling worse-for-wear.
2. Identify Interpersonal Problems Quickly
Sorting through the day's workload can be difficult enough, but trying to keep on top of everyone's lives as well can be a nightmare; and, in some ways, you should not try to 'keep up' with everybody else's lives, as this can reek of paternalism and stifle people. Nevertheless, workplace dynamics can affect productivity, so nip bullying behaviour in the bud, and keep clashing personalities away from each other whenever possible.
3. Don't Point the Finger
Admonishing behaviour that one could be guilty of themselves is the rankest of hypocrisy. Avoid doing such things if another's behaviour doesn't affect their work.
4. National Holidays: They're Important
Try not to schedule important meetings or disrupt employees/co-workers' lives with huge loads of work over holiday periods if at all possible, particularly Christmas.
5. Having a Function?
Then consider the staff's dietary requirements before getting an all-meat, gluten-heavy picnic from a catering service. You do not want to meet the ire of a group of hungry vegetarians, and neither do you want to see a person suffer an allergic reaction.
6. What Platforms Do You Give for Communication?
Surveys, interviews, appraisals and even informal chats over a coffee can be effective means of communication. Businesses with a large number of employees can make it difficult to keep tabs on everybody and their achievements/grievances, but smaller firms may find that proximity amongst staff can hide tensions under the surface, as the chance to speak anonymously or on a one-to-one basis becomes difficult due to the fact that everybody's under everybody's skin. Multi-platform forms of communiqué should be considered in all organisations regardless of size.
7. Don't Promise Your Workers the World
There's nothing more frustrating than an undelivered promise. Be realistic, expect realistic returns and take projects one step at a time. Failure is far less demoralising should a target not be reached, and successes become all the more rewarding should those targets be met or even exceeded.
8. Pay Staff Right & On Time
Not doing so ferments dissent. People have bills to pay, after all.
9. Recognise Good Performance
Good employees may well leave if they feel undervalued, and it is surprising how far a job well done can go. Remember that, sometimes, the more you give the more you get.
10. Consult Your Staff
This doesn't mean every business decision must be consulted with staff first, but big things like moving offices or a drastic change in business model should see you consulting your staff as soon as possible. This can help keep employees engaged and let you see where everybody stands.
11. Be Supportive of Co-Operation Amongst Staff
Do you find that some tasks are better done in pairs/groups? Perhaps you even have a group of people who get on famously well and create sterling work together, maybe even better than the results they produce as individuals? If so, foster their co-operative instincts.