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Keeping Employees Happy
It sounds like an obvious cliché to say it, but like many clichés there's truth in it: happy employees are more productive. And yet it's amazing how often you hear of companies suffering from massive turnover, instability and a failure to live up to their full potential by ignoring this.
Many small business owners will argue that they don't have the budget to offer the kind of wages that will keep employees happy and focussed, but actually this is a misnomer. You don't need the biggest wallet in the world (though it wouldn't hurt!) to bribe employees, and some of the best ways of keeping staff focussed and happy are free, just requiring a change in management mindset. The old adage that money can't buy you happiness is worth considering – indeed in a survey of 2,000 workers, half said they would choose a low paying job they enjoyed over a high paying job they hated, and 38 said they would choose more free time over more money… So short of ineffective bribery, and unrealistic extra holiday time, here's a few of the things to improve happiness in the workplace which won't require you to make changes to your employment contracts and business documents…
Unless an employee is truly incompetent (in which case they won't be the ones you're desperate to keep anyway) any member of staff can undertake some decisions and be allowed to work independently. You don't need to entrust them with your key business documents, but allowing them some freedom can do wonders for job satisfaction. Allowing the employees this little bit of responsibility and freedom will not only make them feel valued, but also make them more loyal to the company as suddenly their decisions – however small – have an impact on whether the business sinks or swims.
A Sense of Accomplishment
Workers aren't keen on being cogs that are part of a bigger machine – or rather, they don't mind, as long as they see that the machine achieves something! If each employee sees no tangible results from their day to day projects, then it's no wonder they'd consider looking for an employment contract elsewhere.
Create a Happy Family
Making sure you hire the right people is imperative. If people become good friends in the office, then the urge to move on can easily be blocked by the loss of friendships. Be careful who you hire, and avoid those who are likely to cause disharmony, no matter how talented they may be!
Set Realistic Goals
One of the top reasons for normally satisfied employees seeking pastures new is an unrealistic workload and a set of unfair deadlines. Of course it's important for a company's growth to push staff to go that extra mile, but just make sure that mile doesn't stretch into a full marathon! It's a sure fire recipe to create (soon to be ex) employees who are both burned out and disillusioned.
Right up there with realistic goals as a cause for frustrations is asking your employees to do work with little to no variety. Doing the same work every day, every month is certain to make employees' minds wander to greener pastures. Finding variety and different documents to work on isn't hard, and it's definitely something which will boost performance.
None of these things cost money or require changes to your employment contracts and business documents – they just require a little foresight and skilled management. If you tick the basic boxes, and offer wage rises and bonuses when deserved, you should be able to minimise disruption and create a happy, productive workplace that goes on to great things.
Iain Mackintosh is the managing director of Simply-Docs ( http://simply-docs.co.uk/DocumentFolder.aspx?documentFolderID=3 ). The firm provides over 1100 UK business contracts covering all aspects of business from equal opportunities in the workplace to employment contracts. By providing these legal do
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