Money isn't everything in business. A happy employee is a productive one, and it's on the business leader to make the workplace a good place to be; here's how.
Motivating employees is a key part of the success of any business. But, according to a recent study by the University of California’s Haas School of Business, happiness has more to do with respect and admiration from your colleagues and peers than pure cash.
Meanwhile, blog TechCrunch cites the example of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s earliest employees remember that he still slept on a bed on the office floor even after his company passed a $1bn valuation, preferring to work long hours and get adoration and respect for his work.
Of course, money still matters for most of us - but so does company morale and culture. We still spend most of our lives at work, and we want to enjoy it as best we can. Running a business for more than a decade I learnt many things along the way and, of course, made plenty of mistakes. So here are my tips to make the workplace a much happier place to be.
A little bit of praise goes a long way
Praise is a no-brainer for any boss. It costs nothing, it's easy to give and it means a lot. So, why do so many bosses not have the brains to praise their employees more often when they achieve and improve?
On the flip side, a blame and shame culture rarely works for long and can quickly stifle initiative and innovation if people are two scared to take on responsibility or make mistakes.
How many employees really know where the business they work for is going and how it's going to get there? Communicating vision and values and getting employees to really buy into these is key for small and big businesses alike.
Sharing rewards along the way as the company grows and achieves great things is another great motivator. If colleagues share the pain, they should also share the gain.
And always try and be honest and transparent. If times are hard, show that you are prepared to roll your sleeves up, get stuck in and that you need help from everybody.
Any business has to listen to employees' ideas and, after constructive feedback, let them run with those ideas. If you are the boss, make your idea theirs and give them the responsibility and motivation to make it happen.
It is amazing what people can do if you let them work together productively. Make them a leader and they won’t want to let the team down. Who needs a lot of middle managers, if employees are willing to take on responsibility themselves and really make things happen?
Colleagues are peers, not children. Everybody is important and should be made to feel important. In that way, they feel they can strive for excellence and take control of their own destiny - and their careers.
The simple things
One of the most important jobs for a manager is to make work enjoyable. Small rewards and shout-outs for a job well done, fun perks, lunch with the boss or drinks after work can work wonders (or my particular favourite - free cakes on a Wednesday).
Making work a nicer place to be can cost very little, but make a big difference.
A sick relative, a school play, the boiler packing up - the unexpected is expected in the workplace. Bosses who show flexibility and understanding in these situations can be a real plus for workers and for company morale and loyalty.
The illusive and all-important work-life balance requires a balanced employer. Treating people as, well, people and understanding their individual needs and situations is an important skill many businesses seem to have forgotten somewhere along the way.
So, as in life, when it comes to the workplace, money certainly helps but it can’t buy happiness.