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7 Strategies for Keeping Employees Happy at Work

A woman handing a woman a piece of paper in an office.

Here’s a good problem to have: You have an amazing team of employees. You value them for their unique skills and abilities to move your company and its purpose to heights that were once not even imaginable.

But just because your employees are talented and high-achieving doesn’t mean they have high morale. Besides increasing their pay or giving them a nice bonus, what can you do to show them they are valued? 

Below are seven strategies that will help your organization reach new heights and continue the upward momentum—and bump your employees’ morale up to the next level.

Boost confidence: Tell your team where their skills are shining the most. Most companies use some sort of annual performance review, but don’t let that prevent you from telling your employees where they are valued and why. Instead of simply saying “Thank you” and meaning it (which is very important), help them understand, for example, why their perfectly polished e-mails or telephone calls with clients are critical to the team’s mission.

Engage creativity: Sometimes we think that our work is so constrained by legal realities or regulations that there is no room for creativity. However, creativity is expressed in everything that we do. Each person uses his or her own creative intelligence to connect with clients in ways that resonate with the individual—and also, hopefully, with the clients. The more we give our employees an opportunity to express themselves creatively (within the confines of external realities and laws, of course), the more engaged our employees will be.

Optimize focus: Let’s face it—life is more fun when you concentrate on things that you like and are good at. This concept translates to the workplace, but often goes ignored. For example, how do you think a copywriter would feel doing code for your newest product? Would your sales team enjoy setting up administrative processes? In order to get your team to be not just productive and efficient, but actually doing their work in a way that brings them satisfaction (a win-win for all!), help them focus on doing more and more of what they want to do, and what they are good at. In other words, let the copywriter concentrate on copywriting. Let the sales team focus on making the sale.  

Streamlining responsibilities may be challenging, but remember, even small steps toward helping your team members focus on work that they enjoy and are good at will translate into a profound change for them and the company.

Zero in on service: Naturally, companies need to concentrate on the bottom line—it’s a reality of doing business. However, making money for the company is not going to motivate every employee. Instead, studies show that being of service and performing acts of kindness for others brings people happiness and a sense of life fulfillment. Finding ways for your employees to tie their work to service is key to creating a sustainable workplace environment where employees thrive on a personal level. Helping your employees make the connection between driving the truck that delivers food to a restaurant with the individuals and families who will enjoy the food while celebrating a special event is just one cool way to highlight service.

Open communication: Many companies have an open-door policy where even the newest or lowest-ranking employee can come to the CEO with a concern about the company. Try practicing this open communication across all employee levels. We have all heard of those CEOs who do a site visit only to shake hands with the deep-pocket clients, and who fail to say hello to the employees who are doing the work and making the deal possible. Don’t be that kind of person. Make sure your team knows that professional communication that goes both ways is appropriate and welcome.

Clarify a plan: Even some of the very best and most highly regarded companies have dissatisfied employees because the workers don’t quite see the bigger picture. Make sure that, as a manager, supervisor or executive, you are not keeping the vision to yourself. Let your employees know where the company is going and how their contributions will help the company get there. Don’t forget to also let them know how they can pave the way for new opportunities for themselves. Most people get excited about advancement; carrots are good!

Make time for play: All work and no fun makes for a boring day. Make sure you are consistently rewarding your crew by providing time to connect with whatever it is they deem valuable in life. Annual events, such as an afternoon at the local ballpark, can boost camaraderie. So can online polls to check on employee engagement when adjustments are made based on employee survey responses.  

You are likely already using at least one of the strategies above to keep your employees engaged. See if you can up the ante on your selected strategies or find ways to implement a new one today.

Marissa Dragoo is an attorney at Littler Learning Group, where she develops content and facilitates training for employees, managers and executive managers worldwide. She also coaches managers and executives on effective team management.


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