JodiMai

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EDUCATION:  BA from University of Oregon BLOG:  None provided
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Writing Sample

HR Strategies to Increase Employee Happiness and Productivity

No one dies wishing they had spent more time at work. Most people work because they have to, not because they want to. That's not to say that work can't be rewarding, or even fun sometimes. But mostly, it's a chore. There's a reason they call it work and not play.

We will never be able to make going to work the preferred way of spending free time, but we can make our jobs and our work environment more pleasant. Studies have shown that happy employees work more efficiently, resulting in better better attendance and longer periods of employment. Keeping employees happy helps lower recruiting costs, minimizes HR issues and ultimately improves the bottom line.  

You are already paying your employees, and possibly paying them quite well when you consider employee benefits and bonuses. And yet... well, you can't shake the feeling that you could be doing more to make your employees happier. And you're right. You can do more for your employees, and it will help your bottom line, both directly and indirectly. It will make your office a better place to be and you won't have to increase your payroll cost to do it.

So where do you start?   

  

Recognize your employees

One of the easiest, and most effective ways to improve your employee's happiness is to recognize them. If an employee solves a difficult problem, make it a point to brag about it. A simple, public "thank you" shows that you have noticed your employee's efforts and value their contributions. If an employee has good personal news, such as buying a new house or having a child graduating from school, celebrate it!  You don't have to do anything elaborate-  even a mass email can let your employees know that they are more than just a cog in the machine.

 

Keep employees in the loop

Nothing is worse for morale than the feeling that associates have no say in the way business is run. Include your employees as much as possible, especially when it comes to strategic HR planning. Will you be creating a new position? Be sure to tell your employees, and allow them to apply, before opening the job to outside candidates. Are you considering moving your corporate office? Give your employees the chance to weigh in. Transparency is the key to creating a happy and growing staff.

 

Flexible hours and working offsite

Very few jobs today require an employee to be tied to their desk Monday through Friday, from 8 until 6. Consider allowing employees to work remotely. You may also be able to allow greater flexibility in working hours. Think about how convenient it would be if, instead of using a half day, or even a full day, of paid time off for a doctor's appointment, your employees could simply come in after they've finished and work a full day, ending their working day at 7:30 to make up for the time they weren't able to work. Some companies, such as Netflix, have eliminated time off tracking altogether and allow employees to set their own work and attendance schedules, provided their work doesn't suffer. While that step is arguably too extreme for a lot of companies, imagine how happy your employees would be if they knew they could come in to the office at noon and work until 8 a couple of times per week.  As long as business is attended to, this will be a win-win for everyone. As a bonus, this will make your company look attractive to potential employees.

 

Offer flexible hours and remote work

Very few jobs today require an employee to be tied to their desk, Monday through Friday, from 8 until 6. Consider allowing employees to work remotely. You may also be able to allow greater flexibility in working hours. Think about how convenient it would be if, instead of using a half day, or even a full day, of paid time off for a doctor's  appointment, your employees could simply come in after they've finished and work a full day, ending their working day at 7:30 to make up for the time they weren't able to work. Some companies, such as Netflix, have eliminated time off tracking altogether and allow employees to set their own work and attendance schedules, provided their work doesn't suffer. While that step is arguably too extreme for a lot of companies, imagine how happy your employees would be if they knew they could come into the office at noon and work until 8 a couple of times per week. As long as business is attended to, this will be a win-win for everyone. As a bonus, this will make your company look attractive to potential employees.

 

Improve your work environment

Take a moment and look at your office with the eyes of a newcomer. Are the walls a dingy, institutional green? Are your carpets stained? Has your coffee pot seen better days? These may seem like small things, but they can really add up. If your office space is depressing, your employees won't be happy. Simple cosmetic changes won't solve everything, but they will have a real impact on your employee morale.  

 

Promote career development

A common reason why employees change jobs is the feeling that they have no room for advancement. Talk to your employees about their hopes and ambitions. Simple communication is one of the most effective HR tools at your disposal. You can have open meetings, you can take anonymous polls, but however you choose to do it, you need to work with your employees to develop actionable steps for career advancement. One strategy would     be to give your seasoned employees a chance to mentor other less senior employees. This can be a great way to create more HR development opportunities for everyone. Other companies have created cross-training programs, giving employees the opportunity to experience other positions and departments and help employees  to determine for themselves what they might like for their next steps. Your HR department can be instrumental in developing and administering this program.

 

It wasn't so long ago that the job market was an employer’s dream. Today, however, finding the right person requires a lot of effort.  Recruiting takes brains, energy and hard work, but that’s just half the battle. Keeping those people around once they’ve been hired is every bit as important as finding them in the first place. Seasoned employees bring experience and the kind of understanding that can't be covered in an on-boarding program. A good company will have a strong recruitment plan, but the most successful companies will put just as much energy into retaining and developing the talent that they find.