As the economy picks up and more businesses increase hiring, employers will want to ensure their employees don't get a wondering eye. Here are 13 tips from the past year on how to keep employees happy and committed in '13.
(To read the full article featuring each expert, just click on his or her name.)
Eamonn Doyle, president of Bloxx
Everyone loves to shop, and if employees can do it online from their desk on their lunch hour, they're bound to be happier – and could even get more work done in the long run.
"It’s about fine-tuning Web access policies and controls," Doyle said. "Web filtering tools that give employees access to sites like Amazon.com or eBay during their lunch hour, for example, keep employees at their desks instead of driving to the local mall. This can actually boost their overall workplace productivity."
Juli Spottiswood, president and CEO of Parago
While it's hard for most companies to reward employees with large year-end bonuses, a study this year found that giving them small rewards is a good way to boost morale.
"This data shows a huge opportunity for employers to foster a loyal environment and maintain a productive work force, because employees are satisfied with smaller holiday rewards and feel even more appreciated and motivated when they receive them," Spottiswood said. "This is positive news for employers still struggling in the tough economy, because it reveals simple ways that they can keep employees loyal and thereby maintain a productive and competitive business."
Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce
Giving employees public recognition for their hard work is an easy way to keep staff happy. Research this year found that 56 percent of those who have received recognition consider themselves highly engaged, compared with only 33 percent of those who don't get any credit for their work.
"Our recent survey indicates a direct correlation between the frequency of recognition and the percent of employees who feel appreciated, love their jobs and intend to stay," Mosley said.
Eduardo Pérez Asenjo, professor at the University of Carlos III of Madrid
If they want to keep workers happy, employers should ensure the salaries of those who work together are comparable. Asenjo's study this year discovered that knowing how much money your co-workers earn could make you a lot less happy at work, particularly in cases where they rake in bigger bucks.
"It might be a relevant criterion to keep in mind, when setting salaries, that an employee is concerned not only with what [he or she] earns but also with what those around them earn," Asenjo said.
Bradley Brummel, workplace psychologist
One way to boost employee happiness is to hire a chief executive officer who inspires a positive attitude.
"A good CEO has the potential to enhance overall evaluations, while a poor one can make an otherwise positive work environment seem bleak," Brummel said. "CEOs with the most visibility are likely to have the most influence in overall company ratings, for better or worse."
Allison O'Kelly, founder/CEO of Mom Corps
An increasingly popular way to boost morale among employees is to offer flexible work schedules. Research this year found just how high a premium workers place on flexibility, with more than 40 percent of employees willing to give up some percentage of their salary for more flexibility at work.
"The fact that employees of all ages are willing to give up any percentage of their salary in exchange for more flexibility over their work schedule is significant, especially given the economic climate and record unemployment," O'Kelly said. "Corporate America no longer aligns with the way U.S. families conduct their daily lives. Participating in some form of flexible work option allows employees to have more work-life balance, and successful companies know this can yield a significant return on investment for them."
Robin Throckmorton, human resources consultant and president of Strategic HR Inc.
As many East Coast companies found out this fall after Hurricane Sandy, being supportive in times of need helps keep employees appreciative.
"How we as employers respond to our employees in a time of crisis demonstrates our loyalty and respect of what they do for the business," Throckmorton said. "Whether it is a down economy causing financial concerns or a disaster causing emotional turmoil, it is up to the business to decide what message they want to send to their employees."
Jennifer Long, brand director at Patron Spirits, the owner and marketer of Ultimat Vodka
While summer is still months away, companies looking to keep employees happy could offer "Summer Fridays," providing employees with a shortened day or the day off. A survey this year revealed that three-quarters of employees believe a Summer Friday policy would both boost morale and prove an effective tool for increasing productivity.
"Employers take note, our survey clearly indicates that if you offer people the ability to take a Summer Friday, they'll be happier and actually more productive during working hours," Long said.
Brent Coker, department of management and marketing at the University of Melbourne in Australia
Keeping workers content on a daily basis is a lot easier if companies allow employees to take little breaks during the day to surf the Internet for leisure.
"Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf on the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher net total concentration for a day's work and, as a result, increased productivity," Coker said.
John Ferguson, a lecturer of management at the Utah State UniversityHuntsman School of Business
While heated political debates are usually frowned upon at work, a new study this year revealed it does have some benefits. The research found that political give-and-take in the office can strengthen job satisfaction and commitment to an organization.
"Political speech at work is not necessarily a bad thing," Ferguson said. "In fact, when supervisors engage employees in a political discussion characterized by a sense of give-and-take, those subordinates experience more job satisfaction and higher commitment to the organization."
Karie Willyerd, chief learningofficer at SuccessFactors
Companies looking to keep employees happy need to offer benefits packages that meet the individual needs of each staff member.
"The days of providing a one-size-fits-all benefits package and expecting employees to be happy are long gone," Willyerd said. "Business leaders who recognize the importance of tailoring benefits, providing training and mentoring programs, and leveraging social media and mobile connectivity will gain competitive advantage, win the talent wars and conquer the generation gap."
Jill MikolsEtesse, creative director for SmartyShortz
An important step in keeping employees happy starts during the hiring process by explaining in detail what will be expected of the new employee.
"By the time we bring someone on, we have had open discussions about what they'll be doing and they know why we are hiring them right from the get-go, which has a huge impact on employee satisfaction once they actually get to work," MikolsEtesse said.
Paul Hogan, chairman and founder of Home Instead Senior Care
If all else fails, giving employees more money is a surefire way to increase their happiness. A poll this year found that an annual household income of $50,000 is enough to increase the likelihood of people feeling an overall sense of happiness and satisfaction in life.
"Money may not directly buy happiness, but our study clearly shows that it is an important factor in satisfaction with quality of life," Hogan said.