Companies have long wanted to know the secret behind increasing productivity in their employees. One overwhelming notion is that not enough value is placed on happy employees. There have been several articles written on how to increase productivity in the office by implementing free food and beverage, having mandatory ‘game’ breaks, and allowing employees more flexibility. And while all of these things may increase the company culture and productivity, the bottom line is happy employees are ultimately more productive. So, how do we help our employees be happier people?
The most common response from workers on how to increase their workplace happiness was to help them reduce their stress levels. We have uncovered a few ‘easy-to-implement’ ways that can increase productivity while decreasing an employee’s stress level.
- Provide Flexible Work Options
Flexible work options can be defined in many different ways, and even the slightest concession can be perceived with the greatest appreciation. For instance, if your staff has the technology to work from home, either regularly or on predetermined days, let them. If they are not needed in the office to perform their tasks, allow the flexibility to work remotely. Recent Gallup research showed that employees who were able to work remotely, even a fraction of the time, were more productive and engaged. And ultimately more satisfied.
It has also been noted that the traditional 9am to 5pm workday is not always conducive to high productivity in today’s culture. Allowing your staff the flexibility to manage their time effectively is important and shows you trust them, and that trust will be returned to you in productivity. Giving your employees the option to start some work days early and/or late, displaying autonomy and showing that you trust them, will lead to happier employees that are more productive, and appreciative of the company culture.
- Encourage Breaks to Celebrate Non-Work Related Events
I like to call these ‘acts of being human’. We all have a birthday so acknowledging it in the office is not a waste of time. It can actually be very uplifting, and not just for the employee who is being celebrated, but for the included staff. Sharing in life’s events shows your staff that you are human and that you care about more than the bottom line. Embracing in the fact that each of your employees has another side to them outside of the office makes them more likely to see you in the same way, making them more willing to help when you ask. Celebrate being human as often as you celebrate office victories and quarterly returns. Showing your staff that you are not only focused on the company returns will increase morale and gratitude, further increasing productivity. A sense of belonging makes everyone happy.
- Show Public Recognition for Staff Achievements
Similar to celebrating non-work events, it is also important to celebrate work achievements and to publicly recognize your staff for those achievements. Showing your appreciation for your staff can come in all shapes and sizes, and shouldn’t only come at the annual dinner. When a staffer signs their first or 100th client, celebrate with donuts or even a congratulatory sign in the office break room. High fives in the hall for achieving monthly numbers can be fun, effective and free. Take the staff to lunch or have a food truck come to the office to celebrate the end of the quarter. Fun and innovative ways to acknowledge the hard work of your staff can last a long time in the minds of your people and lead to increased productivity.
It is equally important to remember that the frequency of the reward is perceived as more important than the size or value of the reward. Meaning, the high five or the silly sign in the break room can mean as much, if not more, than the gift card or luncheon. You do not need to break the bank to show your appreciation. If you have a company credit card that issues points, redeem them for coffee gift cards and give them out to those that are ‘on fire’ this week/month. Using your company resources also shows that you are reasonable and want to share the perks with your staff. This will bode well when you ask for them to pitch in extra during the lean times.
- Drop the Dress Code
Times have changed and the work environment needs to change with them. Being flexible with your dress code allows your staff to express who they really are and shows that you, as an employer, embrace uniqueness and individuality. This simple ‘concession’ can go a long way with office workers, reducing the stress of having to budget for proper work attire and spending less time trying to appeal to our bosses when we need to be appealing to our clients. Not all fields can embrace this, but again putting the employee in the driver’s seat to make the right choices based on their schedule will reduce their stress, increase their perception of the company culture and increase productivity.
- Group Activities Should Not Be Confused as ‘Down Time’ or Unproductive
When you take time to celebrate life’s events and/or office victories, you as an employer cannot view those as unproductive events. Building morale and trust with your staff is important, and they will often work harder for you because of these initiatives. Not all events need to be gauged in lost time or cost of time not spent on work. Building a bond amongst your staff encourages collaboration, teamwork and greater productivity. Surprisingly, most group/work activities allow your staff to get to know each other, increasing the bond and willingness to work together in the future. It is also well known that even outside of work, we still continue to talk about work when with co-workers. So work is going on well past the final whistle and outside of your four walls.
- Give Your Staff the Tools They Need to Succeed
Outside of celebrations and recognitions, it is also equally important to give your staff the tools they need to succeed in their jobs. Take the time to ask for their input on how they could more easily achieve their objectives, let them know you hear their needs. When it makes sense for the company, allow the staff to explore and share the apps or resources they prefer in their daily lives. We can all learn from each other and listening to your staff can reap great rewards. Whether they need a stapler or a software platform, develop a platform that they can present their ideas and feel like they are contributing to the growth of the company. When your employees feel like they have the technology and/or physical items to perform their job duties, they will repay you with productivity from a happier and less stressed person.
Reducing stress by implementing appreciation for your employees as people can lead to staff members who want to work for and with you. Allowing your company and your staff to be flexible and independent can lead to greater creativity and more productivity. Showing your employees your ‘human’ side will make them more willing to help in a pinch or work harder during the lean times. And recognizing each other in the office is important for morale and company culture, whether you have a contest or surprise a staffer who has quietly worked on a big proposal, it show them that you see their hard work and appreciate it.
At the end of the day, reducing stress and providing options leads to increased productivity and happier employees. When your staff feels like a part of a team they are more likely to step up when you need them the most. By reducing their stress and allowing for flexibility, you will see less time taken off for personal or unexpected issues and greater productivity as appreciation for that flexibility.