Little Things You Can Do to Make Your Employees Happier

In an era captivated by wellness trends, the task of keeping employees happy can seem overwhelming.  Does your company need a private gym?  Catered lunches?  Mental health days?  While most employees would undoubtedly enjoy these perks, many times keeping your team satisfied is simpler than you think.  Nearly 80% of voluntary turnover is caused by employees feeling underappreciated, so tackling this issue is the best thing you can do for employee happiness and retention at your company.

Here are some small gestures that can go a long way toward making your employees feel valued:

1. Thank individuals

When it comes to thanking your team for a job well done, it can be tempting to reward everyone all at once with a team lunch or after-work celebration.  While this can promote bonding and can be a great way for everyone to relax, it’s also important to take a moment to consider the contributions of each individual to the group’s success.  Go out of your way to specifically thank employees’ whose performances stood out with a quick conversation, thank-you note, or small rewards.  Be careful not to play favorites, though; look closely at each person on your team and try to seek out the best in all of them.

2. Have meaningful conversations

Checking in regularly with your team is a great way to show that you care.  Not only will asking about their family, their work or their day build loyalty, but it’s also a great opportunity for you to check in with them.  Are they alluding to issues at home that could be affecting their work performance?  Are they excelling at a project and should be considered for a raise?  Are they confused about a task and need further direction?  Having frequent conversations with employees builds strong relationships and helps you to manage your team more effectively.

3. Be inclusive

This one may seem obvious, but inclusivity is absolutely essential for fostering employee happiness.  However, while the benefits of inclusivity are well-known, it often takes purposeful efforts to actually implement acceptance.  Be vigilant in ensuring that everyone is given equal opportunities for growth (regardless of factors like age, gender, or sexuality), and monitor employees to ensure they treat each other with respect.  If an employee feels that their identity is not accepted at work, there is little chance of them ever being truly happy in that role.

4. Allow for flexibility

Many times, the best way to show you trust your employees is by letting them do their jobs.  While many managers are tempted to believe that more is better when it comes to supervision – more instructions, more guidelines, more check-ins – this can inadvertently frustrate employees and stifle their creativity.  Research reveals that almost 80% of employees complain that they are micromanaged at work.  Asking an employee for help planning their project, giving them leeway on logistics, or letting them occasionally work from home goes miles towards building trust and loyalty.

5. Host employee awards

Not only are employee awards ceremonies fun opportunities for office bonding, they also help promote an attitude of appreciation throughout your company.  Frequently, an individual’s department or direct supervisor is aware of their accomplishments, but company-wide awards ceremonies let the whole office know about these successes.  When you can’t host an actual awards ceremony, try an office shoutout board or email announcements instead.  These widespread congratulations can make staff members feel like integral components of the business as a whole.

6. Offer career mobility

Another great way to make employees more satisfied at work is by addressing opportunities for career growth.  Helping an employee plan out their career trajectory or offering them stretch projects to prove their abilities is not only considerate, but a smart business move.  Studies have linked internal mobility to improved employee retention; according to a LinkedIn survey, for every 100 internal promotions, a company holds on to 38 employees who would have otherwise left.

7. Mentor employees

To improve internal mobility, try implementing a mentorship program at your company.  Identify potential talent and pair them with current executives that can give them one-on-one advice and learning opportunities.  Mentorship programs help stand-out employees build solid relationships with their superiors, who guide them and help them fulfill their potential within the company.  A buddy system for underrepresented groups can also be an excellent way to create visibility for employees who traditionally lack it (one great example is Deloitte’s pairing of up-and-coming female talent with seasoned executives).

8. Come up with surprise perks

Unexpected perks are a tried and true way of boosting company morale.  Who wouldn’t want to arrive at work and find a gift card, massage coupon, candy or other treat on their desk?  A free lunch or leaving work early on Friday afternoon are also great ways to make your whole office’s day.

9. Notice and celebrate milestones

Birthday cupcakes or a pat on the back for 10 years with the company may seem like small things, but they can have a major impact on employee happiness.  The act of celebrating together creates a sense of community and sends the message that you notice and care about a person’s milestones.

10. Diversify meetings

Another great way to make employees feel valued at work is by giving everyone a seat at the table.  Avoid limiting meetings to the same few executives every week, and instead try to regularly incorporate a wide range of perspectives.  Not only should you periodically invite mid- or low-level employees, but you should give them a chance to speak and actively listen to these individuals’ input.  Not only will this make your staff feel that their opinion is valued, but it can also help your executive team stay up-to-date with office concerns, successes, and general happenings across all levels.

11. Put out feedback surveys

Possibly the best way to determine if your employees are happy at work is by simply asking them.  Inquire (in-person or through a survey) as to what makes them happy, what makes them unhappy, and things they would like management to change. Anonymous surveys often prompt the most honest evaluation.  Regularly requesting – and actively listening to – employee feedback shows your employees that you care.

Keeping your employees happy doesn’t have to come at the cost of your own happiness.  Small actions can go a long way in boosting morale and retention.  The most important thing you can do to make your employees happy is to give them specific, genuine, and regular appreciation.  Insincerity or shifts in appreciation can inadvertently convey to your staff that their efforts are going unnoticed.  We’re not suggesting that you phase out wellness perks and bonuses, but rather that you use these methods in conjunction with small acts of appreciation.  You’ve probably been told that money alone can’t buy you happiness; keep in mind that it probably can’t buy your employees’ happiness, either.