It takes more than money to make a happy workforce

It takes more than money to make a happy workforce

If your employees enjoy high levels of job satisfaction, you’ll have a competitive edge in the market. Retaining employees can help drive down the costs of recruitment and training. Anton van Heerden, managing director of Sage HR & Payroll, explains how you can enhance the quality of a workplace and have happier employees.

People who are satisfied in their jobs tend to be more productive and motivated, which can help boost company performance and improve customer service.

Many companies imagine that the elusive concept of job satisfaction is mostly about money. Although there are a few people who work purely for financial reward, most employees also look for purpose, achievement and personal development in their careers.

With that in mind, here are some of the things managers and human resource (HR) departments should be doing to lift job satisfaction in the workforce.

1. Offer a comfortable working environment and provide the right tools

It’s important that people are happy in the workplace and that they have the right tools to do their jobs.Getting this right is about understanding the sort of workplace culture you want to create and actively encouraging collaboration and healthy workplace relationships.

It’s also about benefits such as flexible working hours, or even a comfortable workspace. A spacious and well-lit office, ergonomic workstations, a clean kitchen or canteen, and reliable technology all do wonders for productivity and morale in the workplace.

2. Respect the work-life balance

Most employees these days want to strike an optimal balance between home and work life. That’s why it’s important to offer flexible hours _ where practical _and to allow workers to work remotely when it makes sense. Mobile technology is a boon, since it lets people be productive wherever they are.

3. Provide opportunities for advancement

Most employees want to grow and develop in their jobs _ they want opportunities to learn new skills, take on more responsibility, and, ultimately, move up the ranks in the organisation. Formal career paths and training programmes can help employees feel like they have a career with the organisation rather than just a job.

4. Make sure employees are engaged and invested in the company’s success

Employees need to feel like they have a stake in the success of the business. For some companies, this translates into performance bonuses, or share incentive schemes, that reward people when the business is doing well; but it also means listening to employees’ feedback and empowering them to innovate.

5. Be transparent

It costs nothing to be transparent; it simply demands that management keeps an open channel of communication with employees. There might be some things you can’t disclose, because of regulations or customer confidentiality agreements, but, where possible, keep your people informed about the truth of the company’s performance and strategy. This gives them peace of mind and helps nip rumours and speculation in the bud.

6. Listen and learn

Use informal meetings, or structures such as monthly one-on-one discussions, or performance reviews, to listen to your employee’s views. Mechanisms such as anonymous employee/job satisfaction surveys can give insight into your employees’ loyalty levels.

7. Have a coherent approach to rewards and recognition

This isn’t just about the bottom line; it’s about the employee’s perception of how fairly he or she is paid compared to the wider market and co-workers. It is also about ensuring that people feel they’ll be compensated for hard work, or exceptional achievement _ whether through a salary increase during the performance review process, or a performance bonus.

In addition to performance management and financial incentives, be generous with your praise for good work and focus on public recognition.

8. Don’t stretch your people too thin and too far

A company where people are routinely working for 15-hours a day (outside of crunch times like financial year-end), and where there are constant last-minute deadlines, is usually a stressful and unhappy environment.

These are symptoms of poor management or under-resourcing, and they can churn the morale of even the most dedicated employee. It’s up to managers to monitor the stress levels and workload of each employee, and ensure that the company is utilising its human resources correctly.

9. Management support matters

A common misconception among bad managers is that all employees should be self-motivated and able to work without guidance. The truth is that most employees value feedback and direction, even if today’s workplace isn’t the hierarchical command-and-control environment of the past. People like to know what they’re doing right and where they can improve, and they also value structure in their jobs and relationships with their bosses.

10. Understand that everyone does not have the same needs and motivations

Different personalities, and people in different life stages, will value different aspects of the workplace environment. There is some truth in the cliché that Generation Y yearns for feedback and guidance, whereas Generation X is more self-motivated and independent.

Young graduates trying to prove themselves might care more about opportunities for advancement, while a new parent might be looking for better work-life balance. That’s why it’s important to segment your workforce, as you would your customers, and create employee value propositions that appeal to the different kinds of talent you’d like to attract and retain.

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SHEQ Management

SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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