Employees are an essential part of your business and brand. If they come across as unwelcoming or uninterested, you run the risk of rubbing your customers the wrong way. Unhappy employees can lead to assumptions about whether or not your business is a great place to work—and whether or not customers want to give you their business. There are countless studies highlighting the links between strong employee morale and satisfaction and customer satisfaction. So how do you make sure your employees are happy and satisfied?
“Happy” and “satisfied” are subjective terms, but typically, satisfied employees are those with a sense of well-being. This includes the presence of positive feelings like joy and interest, and the absence of negative feelings like apathy and sadness. In the same way that positive feelings can enhance an employee’s ability to find meaning in his or her work, those feelings can also play a role in that employee’s performance and growth.
Here are some tips to foster a positive work environment and empower your employees:
1. Start by being a good leader. You might be a good manager, but are you a good leader? It’s often said that while managers manage people, leaders lead people. In addition to managing projects and workload, make sure you’re also focused on inspiring your team to excel and succeed.
2. Give them quality time with strong leaders. As a leader, it’s important for you to listen and show that you care about your employees’ work, concerns, and aspirations. Whether you introduce a mentor/protégé program or a few extra one-on-one meetings, your employees will be more engaged and productive when they feel seen and heard. If you have a larger business with a hierarchal reporting structure, it’s also important to give recognition to your management team. If they already get workplace face time with you due to their positions, consider a social outing like a lunch or a social event for the entire management team.
3. Encourage empowered behaviors. Employees who have a strong sense of well-being are also more likely to take on new challenges and to play a wider role in the success of your business. When possible and with parameters, let your employees make some decisions independently of you when they are closer to the action than you are and may be more likely to know the right call to make. Remind them that as they make decisions, they need to consider customers, the team, and your business profitability.
4. Encourage creativity. There are always new challenges to address and better ways to do things; let your employees get creative when it comes to dealing with common business issues. Whether it’s suggesting a process improvement for managing inventory or researching a new technology solution for your invoicing system, give your employees room to creatively address everyday challenges.
5. Hold “lunch and learn” sessions. These meetings give your employees the opportunity to learn and connect with one another during the lunch hour. Determine a clear topic ahead of time and tee the sessions up to be both informative and interactive. Whether you’re discussing team goals and performance, holding a “show and tell” with a partner or a particular team, or bringing in a guest speaker or outside resource, getting everyone together in one room can shed light on new ways of doing things and make the lunch hour energizing and engaging.
6. Don’t forget to say thank you. We all appreciate being thanked, but taking the extra step to use a hand-written note, a gift card, or other gestures to recognize achievement can make a big difference in making employees feel appreciated.