Dr. Noelle Nelson, career and workplace expert and author of Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Studies show that the majority of employees enter a new job with high hopes, eagerness and a desire to do their best. Only a very small percent are what might be considered hostile or toxic employees who should never have been hired in the first place.
Typically, somewhere during the first four to six months the eagerness and desire of most employees wane. Employees will only self-sustain their enthusiasm for the work a limited amount of time. After that, in the absence of feeling appreciated by management — that their work matters, that they matter — employees adopt the "whatever" attitude. The job becomes "just a job." "I have to go to work" replaces "I want to go to work" and employees do barely what is required of them, if that.
Keep your employees happy and energized by setting them up for success, theirs — and yours.
Provide Clear Direction
Communicate employee duties and responsibilities clearly so they know what is expected of them. You can't live up to what you don't know.
Right Resources, Right Results
Make sure your employees have the tools, training and sufficient time to accomplish theirtasks and meet company goals. Few things make employees feel as unappreciated, frustrated andunhappy as not having the appropriate resources for the job.
Fix the Problem, Not the Blame
Success doesn't come without bloopers and failures. When an employee has a problem with their job, set your employee up for success by valuing their efforts to do better, not berating them for the failure.
Increase Employee Success with Regular, Frequent, Targeted Feedback
An employee should never be surprised by a yearend review. All along the year, your employees should receive regular, frequent, targeted feedback on their work. Feedback is critical to the employee's ability to know what they've done right and what needs improvement. The key to successful feedback is that it must be immediate as well as specific and sincere.
Catch Your Employees in the Act of Doing Something Right
Acknowledging how your employees are doing something right is a far more successful path to work excellence than pointing out what they are doing wrong. Psychology has long proven that people respond far better to positive feedback than to negative.
Your Employees Are Only as Good as You Are
Your employees will show up on time, have a good attitude, approach problems eagerly and pitch in when needed, to the extent that you yourself encourage and support this behavior. It's up to you to set the example by making sure you show up on time, have a terrific attitude, enthusiastically attack problems and pitch in. Attitude matters tremendously in the workplace, and it comes from the top down. Your employees will not be able to perform well when faced with crotchety, disorganized, unappreciative managers.
All Work and No Play Makes for Unhappy, Unproductive Employees
Create an open, informal work environment, an enjoyable atmosphere where work is not taken too seriously all the time. Studies have shown that friendships at work help people perform better and that incorporating fun and some relaxation at work makes for happier, higher performing employees. If work is drudgery, your employees won't want to stay.
Don't Punish Good Employees for Their Excellence
Good employees often find that they are, to all intents and purposes, punished for their excellent performance. How? Managers will often load a particularly effective employee with more and more work just because — well, they're good. Not only is that unfair, but you may very well break an otherwise dynamite employee.
Learning and Growth Are Critical to Employee Satisfaction
Offer your employees training , classes and opportunities to learn and grow in their careers and skill level. Today's workers want new opportunities to test out and develop their skills, they want challenges; they want the excitement of new information and knowledge. Let your employees know how valuable they are by investing in their ability to either do their job better or further their career whether within or without the company.
Give Employees Work-Life Options
Flextime is yet another way to make your employees love their jobs, for as you give employees the freedom to manage their schedules in a way that fits their lives, you make it possible for them to be more successful. You recognize that your employees are not just interchangeable bodies that fulfill some necessary function, but are persons with full lives, of which work is an important part. This message of value resonates deeply with workers, and you end up with more energized workers producing more of their "best" than might otherwise be the case.
Ultimately, the success of a business comes down to its workers. Thinking of them as disposable parts in a business' machinery will eventually be a company's undoing. Workers will only be as engaged as they believe the company is sincerely engaged in their success and wellbeing.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.