Managers know that happy employees are more creative and productive and less likely to quit. Happy employees show up to work, are less likely to leave, attract others to join the team, and go above and beyond their job requirements. Moreover, they’re not sprinters; they’re more like marathon runners, in it for the long haul. But besides giving out raises to everyone, how can you keep employees satisfied? Experts say it’s not just about contentment (complacency) but more about thriving. Thriving employees have the energy to be enthusiastic and productive but also know how to avoid burnout. Managers can implement four strategies to help promote a thriving culture and employee engagement at the workplace.
1. Provide decision-making discretion.
Employees at every level are energized by the ability to make decisions that affect their work. Employers can give employees more control over their schedules, environment, and work habits. Many companies have pivoted and allowed flextime or telecommuting. COVID-19 has changed how employees engage and has shown that long gone is the “butts in seats” mentality of having workers in the office from 8 am – 5 pm. Because every person’s obligations outside of work are different, customized schedules are a great way to improve employee satisfaction. Flexible schedules are a great way to retain valued employees. Maybe they have to work around a long commute, daycare hours, or other reasons. Flexibility shows that you value the employee and their contributions.
Encourage your employees to decorate their workspace, personalize their screen savers and chat icons, or even choose where they sit. Not everything has to be so serious!. Maybe one employee wants to display action figures, or another likes having family photos. These allowances allow personality to shine. Workers can group by those who like the lights off, those who want background music, those who collaborate, those who prefer quiet, and more. If productivity remains high while still allowing seating preferences, give it a shot!
2. Share information.
Clear and frequent communication with employees helps them see the big picture that drives the company. Leaders tend to communicate less during bad times when in actuality, they need to communicate even more. Consistent communication empowers employees to contribute more effectively when they understand how their work and department work contributes to its mission and strategies.
Implementing a more formal and meaningful open book policy is not easy. You can’t rely on all leaders to disseminate the information to their teams. Create an action plan so everyone will understand all of the intricacies involved to reach the desired outcome. Some leadership guidance and incentivizing may be necessary. You can set up mini-contests to promote fast email response times, greeting customers as they enter your store or restaurant, or pleasantly answering the phone. Sometimes a team lunch, extra time off, or even a small monetary gift goes a long way to foster change. Companies like Whole Foods have also adopted open-book management. Systems that make information widely available build trust and give employees the knowledge they need to make good decisions and take the initiative with confidence. Share the news and trust that your employees will want to be part of the big picture.
3. Minimize rude behavior.
Incivility or rudeness reduces employee productivity. In a recent study, half of employees who had experienced uncivil behavior at work intentionally decreased their efforts. More than a third deliberately decreased the quality of their work. Two-thirds spent a lot of time avoiding the offender, and about the same number said their performance had declined. You probably have heard of stories where bosses expect immediate turn-around time on a difficult task, belittle employees’ work, rebuke contributions, or even degrade personalities. Employees can be rude to each other and create additional intense situations. While these types of stories are familiar to most, we don’t often understand the financial costs of this type of behavior.
The effects of negative behavior on employees can be large in number. They can vary from physical impacts, like health-related issues, to emotional concerns like depression and isolation, to organizational issues like low job satisfaction and high turnover rates. In a study from 2017, 37% of employees had been affected by bullying, and 40% of those experienced a health-related impact as a result. With a clear communication plan, you can help eliminate negative behaviors from your workplace. Identify the cause and give direct feedback without blame. In collaborative settings, determine clear goals and accept all ideas as possibilities — even those out-of-the-box ideas. And for all human resource needs, document everything. Minimizing rude behavior isn’t about hiding or brushing off the actions; it’s about turning the tides towards a positive culture and emphasizing steps to take to create a culture of trust. Corporate culture is contagious, and your employees will follow your lead. Hire a candidate that embraces your company culture.
4. Provide feedback.
Finally, provide feedback as an opportunity to learn and thrive. The quicker and more direct the feedback, the more useful it is. If you only have quarterly feedback meetings, you may forget issues that arose months ago, as well as good behaviors you want to reward. Some businesses have daily huddle meetings. Others do a weekly check-in. Kanban reports, agile methodologies, and 360-degree feedback are all proven methods for helping workers thrive. Input from employees to managers is also welcome. Employees need to feel appreciated for their contributions rather than just receiving negative feedback on mistakes. These feedback sessions, however you structure them, will provide the opportunity for open discussion.
Another method for communication and feedback is to have common areas where employees can easily communicate and share ideas. Casual conversations in the break room can become collaborative conversations. With remote employees, schedule a virtual face-to-face meeting to provide feedback. In communication, a speaker’s words are only a fraction of his efforts. Albert Mehrabian’s research found that only 7% of communication comes from the words you use; 38% comes from your voice and tone, and 55% comes from your body language. Keep those cameras on when you are talking with a remote employee, and try to hold meetings in person when possible.
These four ideas don’t require significant investments of capital or effort. All that is needed are leaders who want to empower employees and create a thriving culture. It would be best if you worked to implement all four principles because they reinforce each other. Helping people grow and maintain energy at work is vital and can also positively boost your company’s performance. Be patient as you work to change and improve, and you will see the benefits of employees who thrive.