As a small business owner, learning how to keep your employees happy is probably the most important skill they didn’t cover in business school. Because c’mon – how are you supposed to measure someone’s happiness, or job satisfaction, in a way that’s measurable and meaningful?
Chances are that before you owned your own business, you were somebody’s employee. It’s also pretty likely that you’ve worked for a boss or two who made you less than stoked about going into work every morning.
Job satisfaction is the number one factor that prevents turnover and increases company morale – more than increased salaries, promotions or other professional opportunities. So how can you, as a busy startup boss with a million things on your plate, learn how to keep your employees happy?
In a perfect world, any time one of your employees was unhappy, they would come to you directly and express their feelings in a calm, healthy manner. And then everyone would go out to lunch holding hands.
In the real world, dissatisfaction in the workplace may be a lot more subtle and hard to detect. Learn to listen and look for nonverbal signs that indicate a problem. Check in with each of your employees often, even if it’s just casually while grabbing coffee in the break room. When you ask “How’s it going?”, make sure you’re really listening to the answer, and not just making small talk.
Acknowledgement goes a long way toward making someone feel appreciated, and toward helping someone understand why they’re on the receiving end of a massive workload or heinous deadline.
If you find yourself having to be the bad guy and enforce weekend hours or make some of your employees stay late, call yourself out on it. Simply saying “I’m sorry you guys have to stay late, I really appreciate it” can work wonders for morale.
3. Be flexible
Remember that first and foremost, your employees are people. They have to go to the dentist, pick up their kids from school, and call in sick from time to time. Meeting these personal life necessities with an attitude of “Of course, go right ahead!” is a great approach when considering how to keep your employees happy.
Appreciation is acknowledgment’s talented twin sister. Celebrate your employee’s work, and show them how much you appreciate what they do. Public acknowledgment is one way to show appreciation. Unanticipated rewards are another. When employees don’t ever feel taken for granted, their job satisfaction is sure to increase, ensuring a stable staff of very happy campers.
What are a few of your favorite ways to show your employees they’re awesome?
photo credit: under30ceo.com