You’ve finally done it: started your own business, worked hard for a long time to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true. It’s been a year or two since you started, and you’ve finally built up a team of people who really understand why and how you want to run your small business. Every morning, when you walk into your office, you’re greeted by the smell of coffee and by colleagues excited to get started on the day’s work. So it’s a complete surprise when, suddenly, one of your employees takes you to the side and says to you: “I’m not happy here.”
“Why?” you ask her.
It could be for any number of reasons. Even though employees from small business are happier, on average, than employees in larger businesses, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more you can be doing to drive employee happiness up. So how do you fix the problem? Check out this list to find creative ways to make your small business employees happier–without even having to give them a raise!
Benefits are one of the best ways you can quickly make your employees happier. According to Aflac’s 2017 Business Report, even though 84% of employees at small business report happiness, when it comes to benefits, only 13% report being happy. This is a stark contrast–one so stark that 26% of the employees surveyed said they’d move onto another company if it offered benefits.
According to experts interviewed by Forbes, the most important benefits that will help you retain employees–and which have reasonable costs for a small business owner–are health insurance, life and disability insurance, and a retirement savings plan. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you implement these benefits–from guides to the top 5 health insurance options for small businesses in 2017 to a step-by-step guide on how to get life insurance for your employees.
Appreciating Your Employees
Appreciating your employees–whether it’s by providing them with extra vacation days or making employees feel like they’re being listened to–can make a big difference in their job satisfaction, too. Even though it’s easy in the small business world to forget about vacation, it’s important to give your employees vacation days, and to encourage them to take them–otherwise your employees will be not only less productive but less loyal, too. Another option is to make the office environment fun, too–why not use Groupon to find cheap drinks after work, or find some cheap tickets to a show everyone’s been dying to see? Fun’s a great idea in the office–it can raise employee productivity as high as 20%!
Another way to demonstrate to your employees that you appreciate them is simple but important: listen to them. When you engage with your employees, ask them about their lives, about their projects at work, how you can help them succeed in the workplace. Ask your employees to help guide the course of the company–if you’re an online merchant, ask them to help you brainstorm ideas for new products to sell; if you’re a graphic design company, ask if there are any new fashions they think you should be working with. If your employees feel like you care about them and their work, their satisfaction will go up.
Providing your employees with career opportunities is another way to make your employees happy in the long-term. Even for companies that offer development support such as training and mentoring, if an employee believes there are no exciting career opportunities, then they’re more likely to leave. It’s important, when talking to your employees about their role, that you have something to offer back–whether it’s a new role or a title change a few years down the line.
In a small business, of course, there isn’t exactly a corporate ladder for an employee to climb–but there are other ways you can retain your hardest-working employees. There are several strategies, such as entrusting them with more responsibilities, that will make an employee feel he’s learning new skills and feeling appreciated in the workplace. Keep your employees involved, make their vision part of your vision too, and your workplace will flourish.
Feeling Valued Has High Value
At the end of the day, with all of these strategies, what matters most is that you are making your employees feel valued. Being valued in the workplace, whether it’s with extra days off or the chance to get involved in a large decision, changes the entire atmosphere of your office. Employees will wake up every day looking forward to their day of work, ready to take on new challenges and prepared for the tasks of their day. They know that you care, and it makes them care, too–which in turn enriches their work and your small business.
Did you ever make a big change in your small business to boost employee moral and happiness? What were your strategies, and how well did they work?
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