Secrets to keeping your employees happy

Keeping your employees happy is probably one of the best return on investment activities you can do in your business.

Traditionally, employers have relied on giving employees wage increases as a way to retain their staff, reward them for being hard-working, and keeping them happy. But wage increases can get expensive, and there is often an upper limit for what you can offer when it comes to increasing salaries and wages.

Keeping your employees happy makes business sense. You want to keep your good employees, and it costs money to find, hire and train new staff. Beyond that, employees that are satisfied and feel valued are more motivated and productive.

Here are some ways to keep your employees happy that don’t rely on higher salaries.

Offer flexible work arrangements

Not everyone wants, or is able, to work a regular Monday to Friday from 9 to 5. Some people have family priorities or other commitments that keep them busy during regular business hours. If it makes sense for your business, consider flexible work arrangements, such as compressed work weeks (longer days in exchange for more days off), varied start and end times, or job sharing arrangements. Remote work is another option that employees may want to take advantage of.

Not only will your employees appreciate flexible work arrangements, your customers and clients may also benefit from your business having increased availability.

Pay for professional development

Good employees want to improve their skills and grow professionally. Often, other priorities get in the way of upgrading skills. Paying for professional development, for example by having a fund people can access or by bringing in experts to run workshops, shows your staff you care enough to invest in them. Meanwhile, your business benefits by having staff trained on the newest procedures and technologies.

Encourage work-life balance

Keeping your employees happy is more than just about what ‘work’ is like. Employees want a life that’s fulfilling, but it’s difficult to find a balance between work life and home life. Having an employer that encourages a work-life balance makes it easier. Avoid messaging (texting, phoning or emailing) employees after work hours and make it clear that people should enjoy their personal time. Encourage employees to take their sick leave and use their vacation days. Be a role model by striving for work-life balance yourself.

Be transparent

Being open and honest with your workers fosters a sense of trust and belonging among your staff. Have regular meetings where you discuss your organisation’s goals, strengths and challenges and receive input and feedback from your team. This encourages engagement and shows your workers their perspective is valuable.

Having a set of values that applies to your staff

Sometimes organisations create noble values that they apply to their customers, but they don’t apply them to their workers. Employees see clients and customers being treated well but then wonder why those same values aren’t applicable to them. Create a set of values that applies to your staff. Set out how you want your staff to feel. Do you want them to feel valued? Supported? What does that look like in your organisation?

Ask your staff what they need

It’s difficult to come up with solutions that everyone will find meaningful. Ask your staff what would be valuable to them–and what would make them happy enough to stay. They may be happy with additional vacation days or more banked sick time, for example. Listen to their suggestions and consider whether any of the options they mention could work for your organisation. Keeping your employees happy could be as simple as asking them, “what would make you happier at work”?

While increasing salary may be one thing you can do to keep your employees happy, there are other things they may value that you can offer.

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