As a leader, it’s no surprise that one of your most crucial jobs is making sure employees are productive day in and day out. Many leaders have attempted to increase team productivity by introducing state-of-the-art technologies and testing the most successful workflow methods they could find. Unfortunately, they’re missing a key ingredient. The best way to spur productivity is to make your employees happy.
Don’t just take my word for it. In 2019, Oxford University’s Saïd Business School published research stating that workers are 13% more productive when they’re feeling happy. Not only is productivity significantly improved, but happy employees are more likely to stick around for the long haul. That means you get to enjoy low turnover rates and keep the best employees to yourself.
The question now is, how do you make your employees happy? While there are many factors that play into happiness, the following leadership strategies will certainly get you and your team on the right track.
Encourage Friendship With Team-Building Activities
A 2018 survey found that over half of employees felt lonely at work, and that number has only increased due to the changes associated with Covid-19. Whether your team is currently working remotely or not, embrace team-building activities as a way to combat loneliness and make your employees happier. When your employees are friends with each other, it’s easier to feel happy at work. It’s like going to school as a kid and feeling excited to share a class with pals as opposed to feeling isolated at a new school.
When planning team-building activities, keep your employees’ various personalities in mind. Remember that not everyone will be interested in karaoke night (unless you have an unusually outgoing team). Don’t underestimate the value of activities such as small group walks or events that include family members. Employees are more likely to form natural bonds when they feel relaxed, not when they’re forced outside their social comfort zones.
Celebrate the Wins
Even your most humble and quiet employees appreciate being recognized for their hard work. While they might not be seeking recognition, affirmation that they are performing well can breathe new life into employees who might be feeling a little burned out. In fact, 79% of U.S. employees who leave their jobs say that they packed it in because they felt unappreciated. Finding ways to celebrate the wins will provide a welcome morale boost to your entire team.
Something I recently started doing with my team is ringing a gong each time we make a sale. Whoever rings the gong is the recipient of our praise, and the entire office gets to celebrate the win for the company. This has quickly turned into a fun and motivating tradition.
There are endless possibilities for celebrating the wins with your team. Treat team members to lunch after they achieve a lofty goal or run a friendly competition where the winners get gift cards. For your silent heroes, a friendly message or a one-on-one conversation thanking them for their hard work can be just as impactful.
Offer Congratulations on Life’s Milestones
In addition to praising your employees’ work-related wins and achievements, congratulate them when they reach personal milestones. You see them primarily at work, but they’re focused on a lot of things outside of the office. Acknowledging employees’ personal lives helps them achieve the work-life balance that really sets the stage for true happiness.
You can celebrate anything from birthdays and anniversaries to closing on their first house or earning a postgraduate degree. There is no life event too small that it shouldn’t be mentioned. Ask your HR manager about their new puppy or your sales lead how their painting class is going. Taking an interest in someone’s life can make their day and help them feel valued.
Simply reaching out will do a lot for your employees’ happiness, but supporting and enabling them to grab life by the horns will have an even further-reaching impact. By providing parental leave when an employee has a new child or flexible hours to an employee who wants to go back to school, you show that you care for your employees beyond the hours they dedicate to your business.
Listen to Feedback
Even after all the work you do to make your employees happy, there’s always something that can be improved. At the end of the day, your employees will be the judge of their working conditions, and at least one of them will have some ideas to make things even better. A good leader will hear them out and do their best to put their feedback to use.
Start by making it known that you’re open to feedback on your leadership style and the company’s way of doing things. Then take the time to sit down with any employee who has an insight they’d like to share, whether it’s about improving communication between departments or suggesting changes to the new office floor plan.
When you receive feedback, give it serious consideration. Some of the best decisions you make will be prompted by your employees. Make the right adjustments, and they’ll be pleased that you not only listened, but delivered. Be sure to schedule follow-up meetings with employees who reached out to you to discuss the changes that were made or explain why they were passed up.
How do you gauge happiness? You can see it in the faces of your employees every day. When smiles and laughs are easy to come by, communication is friction-free and team chemistry is solid, you’ll know that your leadership strategies are working.