How Happy Employees Can Increase Profits
It’s often said that to make money, you have to spend money, but there is often a debate about where to spend that money and what really makes employees happy. Studies show that purpose, meaning, personal contributions, company culture, leadership, respect, and recognition all matter just as much or more than compensation.
Perks also matter, but the allure of things like gym memberships and movie tickets can fade. Happy employees engage with your customers better and create a more positive representation of your brand. It is also well known that happy employees are more productive than their unhappy counterparts.
So when it comes to employee happiness, where do you spend your money? The truth is, it may not be where you think. Investing in employee happiness means you have to know your people and understand your company culture. Why do your employees work for you and not your competition?
Here are some ideas that might help you improve morale and increase the overall happiness and productivity of your employees at your small business.
Turn Things Upside Down
One of the top ideas for improving employee morale at your small business is to encourage input. This is an important factor in employees feeling both valued and respected. Honestly, even if you started your company yourself and once did all the work that your employees now do, it is still often possible for leadership to lose sight of how the decisions they make affect everyday operations.
There are friction points in every process, and employees can often see these when their bosses cannot. Turn the chain of command upside down and let employee input help guide operational decision making.
How do you do this in a practical way though? Not every idea is a good one, and group rule often results in chaos. Here are some practical ways to accept and act on employee input:
- Have both formal and informal means of feedback. A chat in the hall or an email is fine, but there should be a more formal “idea box” that is either physical or virtual where people can submit ideas.
- Act on the ideas you receive. Don’t just gather them — do something with them, and be sure that process is transparent.
- Give input on the input received. Let employees know what ideas will work, what won’t, and why.
- Involve your entire team in decision making. Make sure you are not blind to a problem that they might see, and the value in the solution.
- Give credit where credit is due. Don’t take credit for someone else’s ideas.
Employees who feel like valued members of a team will be happier, produce more, and may even offer the next great idea that will greatly increase your profits.
Offer the Comforts of Office
People work better when they are comfortable. When the office is the right temperature, they can see daylight when possible, and when employees have everything they need, they are simply happier with where they work. Depending on your company culture, some of these perks may be different, but here are some that are pretty universal:
- Make sure office supplies are available and organized. There is nothing more aggravating than going to find a simple office supply like staples and either being out or not being able to find them. Keep office supplies stocked and organized for employee happiness.
- Offer chair choices. When you hire someone, offer them a choice of a chair, and let them update this on a regular basis. Your employees may spend a lot of time sitting, and the more comfortable they are, the more focused they will be on their work.
- Alternative desk options. Some people love a standing desk, others hate them. Adjustable desks are better for proper ergonomics and posture though, so offer your employees choices when possible.
- On site exercise. From treadmills to stationary bikes, sometimes the chance to get up and get moving is just what an employee needs to be happy. Have the option available on site if at all possible. If not, allow for longer lunch breaks if the employee can show a gym check in.
- Food and snacks in an office prove the old axiom that an army runs on their stomach. Having healthy food choices available will keep your employees happy and working.
- Napping areas. It is a proven fact that a power nap can really up an employee’s morale and productivity. Offer a nap room for those quick rest periods.
Of course, not all of these ideas are practical for every business, but they give you the idea that you need to look at who your employees are and what makes them comfortable. Maybe a game console or a gaming room works for you, but for other businesses the ping pong table in the corner is just a dust magnet.
Support Remote Work
All of the above perks apply to a physical office location, but that is not always the answer for every company. In fact more companies than ever are embracing the trend of remote work. Since most people have access to high-speed internet at home, much of what has been considered traditional office work can be done remotely.
However, many employers have been hesitant to embrace this trend, many out of fear that employees would be distracted and not nearly as productive. However, this turns out not to be the case. Most employees who work remotely are more productive than their office counterparts. In fact, there are several other advantages to setting up a remote work policy, including reduced office infrastructure costs.
Note that remote work is not without its challenges. Maintaining company culture is more challenging. However, there are many reasons that employees who work remotely are happier.
- Flexibility: Schedules can be much more flexible if employees work remotely. No one has to open the office for them at a certain time.
- No Commute: The time and money saved in commuting is golden; it reduces stress, increasing employee happiness.
- Location Independence: Yes, it is great to have a home office, but if you need to run to a coffee shop, go do errands, or want to do some work while you are on vacation on the beach, remote work makes that possible.
- Casual and Comfortable: There is no dress code at home or even peer pressure to be fashionable.
- Day Care and Pet Care: It is impractical to have on-site daycare, especially if you are a small business, and having pets in the office can trigger allergies in some. However, remote work lets employees care for both kids and pets while still getting work done.
Want to make your employees happy and more productive while saving your company money and increasing profits? A remote work policy is one of the simplest solutions.
Redefine Paid Time Off
We often think of time off as vacation or sick time, but what about the time when the employee is still at work? Most states have legal minimums for breaks and lunches depending on the number of hours an employee works, but they are seldom really enough for what the employee needs. So how do you structure breaks?
That depends on your type of business, but the truth is you should provide as little structure as possible. When an employee needs a break, encourage them to take one. Allow them to get up and walk around, take a longer lunch, and schedule their own breaks when possible. This will help them avoid fatigue and eyestrain, both of which make them less productive.
The same should be true of time off and vacations. The more flexible you can be, the happier your employees will be when they return to work. Make sick days available for mental health days, taking care of sick loved ones, and even resolving personal business. Your employees will work hard and be happier the more you respect their needs and their privacy.
Remember that your employees are the face and the backbone of your company. Apple famously proclaims that their people are their greatest asset. The more you treat your employees that way and make their happiness a priority, the more productive and profitable your company will be.