Running a small business can provide a lot of joy to the one running it, but that doesn’t mean doing so is a cakewalk. The struggles of improving cash flow, growing a client base, planning and waging effective marketing campaigns, and maintaining a happy and healthy workforce takes continual effort, and it can be exhausting. For many small business owners, the punch list is truly never fully punched, which means some aspects of the list must take precedence over others.
Believe it or not, tending to how your employees feel is one of the most vital parts of running a successful business. Why? Well, happy employees have a direct effect on everything from being able to provide good customer service to increasing your profit margin, which means aiming for happy employees should be a daily undertaking. Here are five little-noticed ways you can go about improving your employees’ happiness.
1. Safe Working Conditions
While it should go without saying — especially since OSHA requires it — providing your employees with a safe working environment is essential to their overall sense of well-being and happiness. Whether you work in an office environment, a warehouse, or in an industry that has employees in the field, go beyond simple legal compliance, and take the kind of care for your employees that you would for family members.
Not only will it ensure accidents and injuries are rare, but going the extra mile in regards to health and safety will let employees will know they’re valued. If you’re unsure about how to improve working conditions beyond what you’re already doing, HSE consulting can help.
2. Paid Leave
Employees need time off, and when they take it, they need to be financially supported so they’re incentivized to come back and have a good attitude about doing so. Even if you’re a small business, find a way to offer paid time off to your employees, as well as paid sick days. While it may require you to cut back on expenditures elsewhere, spending money to give employees paid time off will increase their happiness in their work and life considerably.
If you already offer paid vacation and sick days, go further by offering paid maternity and paternity leave as well. For employees considering starting a family, it will make a massive difference in their opinions about their place of employment.
Yes, you’re the boss, but being the boss and being a good boss are two different things, and happy employees have good bosses. One of the best ways to be a good boss is to incline a listening ear to your employees — not just in meetings where you’re trying to listen, but all the time.
Eat lunch with employees. Stop in at offices, cubicles, and workstations and ask about how things are going. If you do it enough, you’ll eventually start hearing people’s true feelings, frustrations, triumphs, and the like. Then, once you do start listening to what’s really being thought and felt, be sure to act on it.
4. Be Consistent
When employees work in an environment where rules, mores, expectations, feedback, discipline, and celebration are all consistent, they can relax enough to be more comfortable while they do their work.
What happens when we are in a place where we can be ourselves? Simply put: We’re happier. Strive to run a business that acts and responds to situations and people with consistency. If you or your organization has struggled to be consistent in the past, spend some time re-evaluating your core values and mission statement. Only when you’re clear about who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish can you act in a manner that’s dependable and coherent.
5. Trust Employees With Risk-Taking
Not all your employees want the chance to change things, try different work systems, develop new products, or otherwise reinvent the wheel, but it’s almost certain that some do. While it may be a bit nerve-wracking at first, try and foster an environment in which employees are encouraged to take some risks.
Not every idea will pan out, but some will, and, for many employees, the loosening up and transition of a work culture where mistakes are no longer feared but are instead viewed as part of the creative process will pay off in impressive happiness dividends. Risk. Innovate. Happy employees will be at least one of your takeaways.
Keeping employees happy doesn’t have to involve massive expenditures of cash. All it takes is commitment and small actions like those listed above, and your small business will reap the many benefits that come with having a satisfied and productive workforce.