How to keep Employees Happy and Productive in the Office

This is an interesting subject, and something that all employers should be engaged with. So what makes employees happy and productive? This is a difficult one to answer in a nutshell as work places and organisations come all shapes and sizes with so many different factors applying to each and also so many different job specs and personalities thrown into the mix.

So what are the different contributing factors to unhappiness, stress and de-motivation at work?

Communication

A different Christmas present from a different Chris.

Lack of communication between employer/manager and employees is one of the biggest failings, especially with larger companies. When workers fell unsure of what is going to happen next, unclear with the precise definition of their job spec or unaware of what another department is doing – this creates confusion and a demotivated atmosphere.

- Keep them up to date with new developments either with meetings or email communications. Listen to feedback attentively and openly act upon this feedback where relevant.

- Be sure that each employee has a clear concise job spec that is reviewed on a 6 monthly basis so that they feel managers are aware and engaged with what they actually do for the company.

- If your company is large enough to have departments that should be liaising over certain projects or workloads be sure one hand knows what the other is doing. There is nothing more frustrating and demotivating than wasting time unnecessarily because of communication breakdown.

Appreciation

Pink Bouquet

Every person wants to feel that their efforts are noted and appreciated at work. Most people work between 40 and 60 hours a week, that’s a lot of time to be giving to someone else if you feel undervalued. Depending on the size and structure of your company will depend on how you will want to look at this but here are some ideas that will help you work out the best way to tackle this for you:

- Rewards for outstanding work or a job well done can be very affective if used correctly. It can be anything from employee of the month getting a bottle of fizz to vouchers or bonuses for high achievement. Be sure that the reward is really deserved or this method can backfire with jealousy and the wrong kind of competitive atmosphere created.

- Open praise of good ideas or work will keep motivation levels high. There is nothing worse for an employee to make the effort to come up with something new only to hear of its implementation without a word of thanks or recognition.

- Progression is important to all employees, even if some have smaller goals of achievement. Be sure that staff can see a clear path for their progression or promotion and this is directly linked to appreciation and recognition as it will be clear that they won’t achieve unless effort is made. Showing up to work on time for a few months doesn’t equate to natural promotion.

- Boost team morale by bringing donuts in for everyone if it has been a good week. Or even let everyone go an hour early one Friday as a reward for a job well done.

- Benefits – look at what your company offers in terms of benefits for your employees. So aside from just being paid what other extras are on offer? Free gym membership, healthcare or discounts from company products all add to the appreciation pot.

Workloads

Workload a little heavy?

This is a very touchy subject for many at the moment. Particularly in public sector where jobs are being cut to save money resulting in the remaining employees having more to do. And across the board in all sectors there is a real culture of working longer hours without getting paid to avoid redundancy. Piling an ever increasing work load on to your employees will cause stress and breed resentment. Managers need to be aware of exactly who is doing what and how they are coping.

- Managers should have an ‘open door’ policy to their staff, so that if workloads are getting unmanageable, employees feel there is a clear route to resolve this problem and be heard before stress and time off become inevitable.

- Help employees to prioritise workloads, it may be that some staff are not able to do this – help them.

- Time management is not something that comes naturally to everyone either. Be sure that all employees have a basic training on time management.

- Breaks/lunch hours controlled - make sure that breaks are clearly defined so that time wasters can’t use workload as an excuse.

Employee Training

#119/366 Push-ups

Training is something that should never be underestimated as a motivator. Making staff more equipped to do their jobs and more confident in their abilities will increase productivity and happiness at work.

- Do you have a clear plan of training for all new staff and induction training? This may only apply to larger companies but making new staff in any company feel more knowledgeable about company processes, policies and ethos will start them off feeling happier.

- Is there a regular training that can be given to employees in different departments or at different levels?

Job Security

Security

In these times of uncertainty with companies folding during recession and everyone fearing redundancy or dismissal. Gone are the days of people working for one company for life, the culture of the ‘revolving door’ is much more prevalent. But one of the biggest causes of unhappiness in the workplace is a feeling of insecurity and a fear that your job may disappear at any moment.

- Share company success - it is important to keep morale up by sharing the company successes. Let all staff know if new accounts or business have been secured. This way they will know they still have work for the next 6 months for example.

- Managers should make sure their staff don’t feel precarious in their role and instantly replaceable.

Atmosphere

atmosphere

All of the above points contribute to the general feeling or atmosphere in the office. But aside from these office gossip or bullying culture can also create a bad working atmosphere. There are many different character traits to deal with in a busy office so each situation will be different. But as a manager or boss you can help to keep a calm but productive atmosphere by:

- Being calm and productive yourself! Which will gain their respect.

- Control any unwanted behaviours in a professional manner through proper procedures.

- Lighten the atmosphere on hard days by adding a sense of fun or bringing in treats for everyone.

- Team building activities or after work social events can create a better working atmosphere during work time.

Environment

Organic Green Leafs of Bamboo

Much research has been done into the different affects that environment has on productivity. This includes everything from lighting, seating arrangements to bringing in potted plants to improve air quality. These factors may be last on your list as a boss but they certainly shouldn’t be dismissed.

- Is there enough natural light in the office? Lack of vitamin D causes the ‘winter blues’.

- Are your workers crammed so close together they feel like sardines?

- Are the facilities kept clean and in good condition? Ie. The kitchen and toilet areas.

- Is the room intended for lunch and or breaks a pleasant area? Nobody wants to eat their lunch in a dingy, dirty space.

- Is the air quality and temperature good? Offices too hot will make your staff sleepy and less productive.

- Is the work space attractive? Can you add plants and wall art to give staff a sense of working in a quality space?

What aspects in your office do you feel add to employees happiness and productivity?

Posted by Paul Randall
29th August 2013