Have you ever asked yourself if you’re the reason your employees leave? Try these five ways to improve workplace happiness.
Darren Miller is on time to work everyday. He follows all the company policies and procedures, and contributes in staff meetings. Darren consistently receives meets or exceeds expectations on all his reviews. By all accounts you believe Darren is an exceptional employee who likes his job and is happy. Then one day, Darren walks in and hands you his two weeks notice. If you’ve been in management, this has probably happened to you. You lost a good employee for higher quality of life or more money…but is that really what happened? Why was he looking for a different job in the first place? Is it possible that Darren wasn’t actually happy with his job, and could it be that YOU are the cause of that unhappiness? Interestingly, you come to find out that even though Darren told you his resignation was about a better opportunity, Human Resources lets you know that in his exit interview Darren said that he didn’t feel supported. Not supported? How could he not feel supported?. Darren got a promotion six months ago. He was your go to employee. What happened and how come he didn’t say something?
Over time your staff will come and go, and it is easy to take their respectful “I got a better opportunity,” as the reason they are leaving your company. Smart people generally want to leave on good terms and preserve the potential of referrals down the road. Often, important feedback isn’t likely to be shared with you. It is probably safe to say, that if your employee cared enough to say something, you wouldn’t be watching them walk out the door. Instead of taking this situation at face value, it’s time to look in the mirror and ask yourself, are my employees happy, and has anyone left because of me?
A recent Gallup poll showed that nearly half of adults surveyed have left a job to escape a manager. Happiness is an increasingly important issue for your company, especially with more millennials entering the workforce. Millennials value integration and quality of life over hard work. It’s not just about making a living, time is your employees’ most valuable resource, and every aspect of how they spend their time defines them. Work not only has to pay the bills, but it has to be relevant to who they are an contribute to their overall quality of life. Tolerating the mediocre, isn’t good enough, they desire to be passionate about what they do, because it speaks to who they are.
The lines between personal and professional are getting blurrier and you play a major role in your employees’ lives and how they spend their time. Employees spend 40 or more hours a week with their managers and teams, which in most cases is more time than they get to spend with their actual family and friends. Consequently, your role isn’t just about making sure the job is getting done, but it’s helping your employees reach their full potential, and find enjoyment in what they are doing.
Our masculine, managerial forefathers taught us that as the boss, employees don’t have to like us, but they better respect us. The truth is that good managers want both. A 2014 study found that happier employees are more productive. If happier employees are more productive , they are likely to be more engaged and stay on your team longer. Most managers would agree with this, but for some reason, our most important asset keeps slipping down the priority list. There is a practical reason to make your employees happiness one of your top concerns – cost. Every time an employee leaves it costs you time, productivity, and momentum to find and train someone new. You can liken this to retaining or acquiring customers, as we all know it’s more efficient and cost effective to keep one, than to find someone new.
There is reciprocal relationship between how your employees feel about their work, and how your employees feel about themselves. Employees that are happy and feel like their work is contributing to their quality of life will devote the best aspects of themselves to ensure organizational success.
Try utilizing these simple tools for increasing satisfaction and happiness with your employees:
Set clear expectations – Having clear expectations with your employees reduces their stress level, increases the overall ability for the team to work together, and removes the need for close supervision. In many circumstances, employees are afraid of disappointing you. Consequently, they aren’t always upfront about not understanding what you want. Take ownership for good communication and clarity, and you will reap the benefits.
Leverage your employees’ strengths – You hired your staff for a reason. Make it a point to go back to their resumes and remind yourself of their strengths and the things they do well. There are likely underutilized skills on your team. Better yet, ask your employees what their colleagues do well, and make use of the strengths others see in the team. Calling on someone’s expertise will help improve their confidence and increase their sense of value in your organization.
Work closer to your team – The corner office that came with your position is a great perk, but it can also become a barrier between you and your employees. Even with an open door policy, the walk to your office might prevent them from approaching you. While you might not have control of the physical layout of your organization, spend some time working next to your team. Reserve the conference room for a day and invite your employees to work alongside you. This helps your team work more collaboratively, and you will likely share in some laughs along the way.
Know what makes them happy – The best way to know what will improve someone’s satisfaction and happiness is to ask them. Despite how important happiness is, asking what makes someone happy is not a commonly asked question. The more you can incorporate what your employees enjoy into your work culture, the more motivated your employees will be to participate.
Be happy too – Happiness starts with you and just like yawns, smiles are contagious. If you are happy with your work, and express that happiness, it gives your team permission to be happy too.
The next time you have an employee leave, be confident that their departure is the right step for their career. The best case scenario is that they leave because they grew from working with you and are moving on to something better. Ideally, your employees leave like passionate alumni graduating from a great education. They like—if not love their experience—and it’s difficult for them to leave. Both the organization and the employee are better for the time the employee spent on your team. Passionate former employees will promote you and your business by speaking positively and sharing fond memories.
Gallup survey: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/182321/employees-lot-managers.aspx
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