Employee retention directly affects your company’s bottom line. In fact, a high employee turnover rate can cost your business more than twice an employee’s salary to locate and train a replacement. Of course, fostering a positive work environment should be any leader’s goal, regardless of how it affects productivity and profitability. After all, how people feel when they’re at work plays a major role in how they feel in their personal lives.
In order to keep your employees happy, you need to be innovative and proactive. What works for one office isn’t necessarily the right approach for another. At the same time, there are some universal strategies – besides bonuses, vacation time, and other obvious prizes – that can breed a positive environment for you and your staff. Here are five simple changes that you can implement without breaking the bank:
- Express Gratitude Verbally and Regularly
In one workplace study, 70 percent of a 30,000-person group credited their co-workers for creating an engaging environment, rather than perks and amenities. It’s clear that person-to-person interactions are much more important than physical goods when it comes to employee happiness. At the same time, there’s certainly nothing at all wrong with giving corporate awards (more on that topic later).
It’s clear that expressing gratitude in conjunction with the award is what really makes the difference. As the old saying goes, it’s often the thought that counts. It can be so easy to forget to say “thanks” once in a while, so try to make gratitude a habit and a reflex, rather than a special occasion. Lead by example, and try to cultivate an environment where people appreciate each other.
Simple words of thanks are great, but try to be specific sometimes too. Express what you’re thankful for and how it will benefit the company. This shows your employee that your gratitude is thought out, and it also reinforces positive behavior. Simply knowing that hard work is appreciated motivates people to continue performing their best.
- Show Your Appreciation with an Award
Sometimes a verbal “thank you” just doesn’t cut it. After all, there should be a different sort of recognition for a basic task such as turning in a report than for a major achievement such as surpassing a monthly sales goal. Positive reinforcement is a powerful motivational tool, so take advantage of it whenever you get the chance. Give your staff or individual employees simple rewards to let them know they’re appreciated.
A small trophy or a customized plaque are both surprisingly affordable, and that type of corporate award can be a point of pride for the recipient, and it serves as an enduring reminder of a job well done. Awards also add prestige to your organization. You can be sure that a potential client, investor, or partner will take notice of awards. Instill confidence in those who are interested in working with your company.
- Give Your Employees Room to Breathe
Studies have consistently shown that micromanaging your staff simply doesn’t work. The most successful companies are made up of people who are trusted and given responsibility. Stepping back and hoping for the best can be a daunting move, but it’s usually going to work out in your favor. Overbearing management is a common cause of high employee turnover rates, and it creates a hostile work environment.
While you do want to avoid micromanagement, you don’t want to step back too far outside the picture either. It may take some time, but eventually, you should be able to find a comfortable balance. You want to be involved, but also willing to let your employees do their jobs unimpeded.
Always remember that your team is made up of adults, and they deserve to be treated as such. Instead of focusing on negative aspects of an employee’s performance, try to reinforce the positive traits. You’ll see your team flourishing in no time.
- Hire Likeminded People
Not every applicant is going to be right for your office. A good resume is only one part of the equation. In addition to finding qualified employees, you want to hire people who will integrate into your office culture successfully. Choose applicants who genuinely believe in your company’s mission and products/services. The right cultural fit often makes a better employee than on-paper qualifications.
Of course, diversity is absolutely critical to the success of any office, so don’t base your hiring criteria on your favorite employee. Spend some time interviewing each candidate, and try to determine if they’ll bring something new and exciting to the table. People from all walks of life have an amazing ability to learn from each other, which helps your team to develop and progress as people over time. Try to hire people who are going to inspire your current team to thrive.
- Be Genuine
Sometimes an artificially positive environment is worse than authentic negative one. People can usually tell when someone is putting on a front, so try to be real at all times. If you’re having a tough day, it’s okay to acknowledge that. While you may need to put on your happy face at times, it’s important that your staff never views you as a phony.
So how do you handle stress at the workplace? When you’re not feeling like your usual cheerful self, take steps to improve your mood, rather than hiding it. Bosses are people too, and vulnerability isn’t always a weakness.
Be mindful of how your mood can affect how your team feels, as one negative interaction – even an unintentional one – can start a domino effect. When you start to feel negative emotions, find somewhere private to unwind. Take a few deep breaths, do some yoga, go for a quick walk – whatever it takes to refocus.
Ask Your Staff for Suggestions
Finally, remember that your employees know what makes them happy better than you ever could. While you should be proactive in creating a positive workplace, don’t forget to include your team in the process. Ask them what you could do to create a better work environment. Listen to them when they have complaints, and then take action. The best leaders know how to communicate and listen, and they recognize the value that their employees bring to the table. The very act of wanting to improve morale is the first and most important step. Now, start leading by example.