You’ve heard that catchy song, “Happy,” from Pharrell Williams:
“Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth …”
Though most of us know what puts us in a good groove in our personal lives, tapping the “happiness quotient” at work is a little trickier. But that doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to punching a clock and tirelessly plodding along. It’s a matter of employee motivation — and whether we’re driven to deliver our best. A few tweaks can make a difference in the workplace atmosphere and get everyone humming the same happy tune.
It Starts with Employee Appreciation and Recognition
Here are the top five concerns of many workers — and how to keep your employees motivated so your workplace thrives:
- Employee: “What am I doing?”
Employer tip: Define the job
One of the biggest reasons employees disconnect is lack of clarity about their jobs. They might not know what’s expected of them, or they don’t have a sense of purpose because they don’t see the bigger picture.
Every position plays a part in your business, so take the time to explain that to employees — especially when they’re hired and regularly thereafter. Before projects and programs are kicked off, talk about each person’s role. Later, when you’re wrapping up, share the results and next steps.
- Employee: “How am I doing?”
Employer tip: Give regular feedback
Employees may shut down if their boss or manager withholds feedback — whether it’s positive or constructive. It’s easy to give high fives when everything is going smoothly, but it’s harder to criticize when the waters are rough.
Yet providing regular feedback — weekly or monthly, rather than once a year at review time — is a big aspect of managing your staff. Employees don’t function well in a vacuum. To do better work, they need to know what they did right and what they could do differently next time.
- Employee: “Where is this going?”
Employer tip: Care about their careers
If they’re not advancing, employees will feel stuck. This isn’t “Groundhog Day” — employees need to know they won’t do the same things day in and day out.
Offer on-the-job training to learn new skills, as well as classes and workshops to help employees grow as individuals — all of which can lead to higher-quality work and a renewed commitment. Concerned about employee retention? Keep in mind that employees are less likely to leave if they see a positive future right where they are.
- Employee: “I’m so bored.”
Employer tip: Create an upbeat environment
Is the mood at your workplace tired and draining, or vibrant and uplifting? Staff morale starts at the top and trickles down from there. Be careful about the messages you’re sending to your staff, especially during difficult or busy times. Employees want to be kept informed and to know “we’re all in this together.”
Beyond that, there are loads of things you can do to make the workplace a lighter, more fun place to be: Celebrate employee birthdays and anniversaries, host breakfasts or lunches every few months, hold theme days on Fridays (favorite sports jersey, wacky hat day, etc.) and spruce up your space with fresh paint or eye-catching art.
- Employee: “Does my work matter?”
Employer tip: Ramp up employee recognition
It should come as no surprise that employees like to be noticed. In fact, employee recognition is one of the most powerful employee engagement tools. Look for ways to recognize excellent work, whether it’s turning in an error-free report, staying on schedule with an important project or working well with others.
And though it’s great to recognize the “big wins” with Employee of the Month awards, gifts and other perks, singling out the smaller achievements adds up, too. Be sure to tune into the quieter, day-to-day efforts with a well-timed “good job,” “thank you” or handwritten acknowledgment.