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5 Inexpensive Ways to Keep Employees Happy

5 Inexpensive Ways to Keep Employees Happy
It doesn't always cost money to make employees happy and keep them engaged. / Credit: Happy woman image via Shutterstock

Keeping employees happy is one of the best ways to ensure they are staying focused on their work. But a new study by staffing firm Randstad found a disconnect between what makes employees happy and what employers are actually providing. Employees believe the top ways to keeping them engaged in their day-to-day assignments are by offering promotions and bonuses to high-performing workers and allowing flexible work arrangements.

While that's what employees may want, the research shows employers aren't living up to those expectations. Just 23 percent of those surveyed said their employers are handing out promotions to top workers and only 37 percent said their company is accommodating in terms of flexible working arrangements.

Jim Link, chief HR officer at Randstad North America, said employee engagement is not just a nice-to-have factor that organizations should consider — it can have a tangible impact on a company's bottom line. [8 Amazing Job Benefits That Keep Employees Happy]

"In fact, a recent Gallup survey found that organizations with a high level of employee engagement resulted in a 22 percent greater level of productivity," Link said. "Engaged workers are invested in their organizations and businesses that get it right will have a work force committed to their own personal achievements, as well as the overall mission of their employers."

To help employers keep their employees more engaged in 2014, Randstad offers these five tips.

  • Foster a culture where employees can feel their time away from the office truly is their time: The blurring of lines between home and work was seen as having increased the productivity of employees at their company by only 46 percent of employers, down slightly compared to November 2012. This suggests "constant connectivity" does not necessarily equate to increased productivity. In fact, only 2 in 5 employees reported the blurring of lines between work and home has increased their productivity.
  • Cultivate a more dynamic work force by asking less conventional questions when interviewing candidates to determine if they are the right cultural fit: Employers selecting cultural fit as among the two most important traits for prospective employees doubled from 15 to 30 percent since November 2012. In fact, being a good cultural fit was the second highest-ranked factor after work ethic, outranking education, relevant on-the-job experience and knowledge of the industry.
  • Satisfy employees' hunger to continue learning and enhance their skillsets through training and development programs: 2 in 5 employees said training and development are among the most important skills for growing their career today.
  • Establish a social media policy so employees understand the guidelines in place: While staying connected is important, it's critical social media does not distract employees from their time at work. Facebook was reported to be the most popular diversion for employees, with 11 percent of workers spending an hour or more on the site for personal use every day. For an eight-hour work day, that's more than 12 percent of the entire day. Communicating appropriate uses helps ensure employees are using their time in productive, career-building ways.
  • Provide employees with a defined career path: Less than half of employees reported they aspire to have their boss' position, but it's important employees know they are valued and are part of the long-term business plan. Provide opportunities for professional growth and offer new challenges to keep employees stimulated by their roles.

The study was based on surveys of 500 full-time employees who work at a company or organization with at least 50 employees.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.