Historically speaking, the health and happiness of an employee hasn’t always been considered a company responsibility.
Over the past few decades, however, we’ve seen a huge shift in the way companies think about employee well being. High-pressure, cutthroat business environments – the kind immortalized in 1980s Wall Street flicks – are giving way to positive working cultures in the face of mounting evidence that the most productive teams are happy ones. Economists at the University of Warwick found that employees worked harder when they were happy – showing a 12 percent spike in productivity. Meanwhile, leading researcher Dr Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research, writes extensively about the links between productivity, creativity and employee happiness.
Forward-thinking companies know that business efficiency and positive work cultures go hand-in-hand. While Google is famous for employee perks such as sleep pods and café lunches, striving to foster a positive work culture doesn’t have to be complicated and costly. Here are some simple ways to look out for the happiness of your team on a daily basis:
It’s a no-brainer that when a team member feels that their work is not appreciated and that their efforts go unnoticed, they quickly become demoralized and lose their enthusiasm for the job. Making your employees feel valued is critical to fostering a positive workplace culture and a happy team. This is backed up by research, too - studies show that organizations which regularly show appreciation to their employees far outperform those that don’t.
Of course, you can’t hold individual meetings every day to remind a team member that you value their work. However you can show simple appreciation by giving recognition when it’s due – turns out, a compliment from a team leader is more motivating than a cash bonus or a pizza voucher, according to one study.
Everyday conversations, such as when assigning work and delegating tasks, are also a good opportunity to show a team member that their work is valued.
Make it personal - explain why you’ve chosen the specific member to take on the job and reiterate why you truly value their work. “You did a great job on your last presentation, which is why I think you’d be perfect for preparing next week’s brief,” emphasizes that you appreciate your team member’s contribution far more than “could you prepare the PowerPoint by tomorrow?”
Offer new tools
A happy team feels equipped to do their job properly. Meanwhile, frustration and stress in the workplace often stem from feeling under-resourced. When setting goals for your team, make sure that they have the right tools and training to accomplish their tasks.
As workplaces increasingly digitalize, a comprehensive SaaS (software as a service) tool stack will streamline processes and help workflow run more smoothly, dramatically cutting down on employee stress. Today, there’s a SaaS tool designed to address virtually every productivity roadblock, from calendar management and scheduling meetings to analytics.
Research the best solutions for your specific productivity challenges and leverage the new technology to create a smoother working environment. For inspiration, Templafy’s marketing manager Glen recently shared his list of productivity tools he couldn’t live without.
Of course, shiny new tools won’t change much if you don’t take the time out to train your employees in how to use them, so it’s important to complement your investment in new technology with comprehensive training. Your team will be left feeling that their company is actively striving to make their workday flow more efficiently and smoothly.
Increase learning opportunities
When team members feel like the company is investing in them and their future career, it generates the sense of being valued. That’s why routinely offering opportunities for learning opportunities and professional development is critical to a positive work culture.
These efforts can be big or small - investigate the options with online seminars, mentoring programs or workshops and outside courses which can upskill your team. Teambuilding exercises and team training activities can also be conducted in a way that is social and fun, boosting the sense of comradeship among team members and generating good vibes at the workplace.
It’s okay to make a mistake
Humans aren’t perfect. While a leader should expect a consistently high performance from their team, mistakes and errors are inevitable. A positive working culture is one where employees aren’t made to feel like a mistake is fatal, increasing work stress.
Forbes interviewed several CEOs with high-performing teams about how they turn mistakes into learning opportunities, rather than shaming or punishing their employees. For example, Sarah Nahm, CEO of Lever, uses a clever tactic to keep mistakes in perspective, adding that newcomers benefit hugely from seeing the mistakes of their predecessors.
“At the team level, we see different teams tackling the opportunity in different ways. Our marketing team started an internal spreadsheet of ’Marketing Mistakes’ that they periodically review in meetings, to show that it’s not the end of the world when things go wrong and that the main thing is to learn from the experience,” she said to Forbes.
Take the time to listen and give feedback
Leaders and managers who take the time to listen to their team members and think about their well-being find success in turn. Your team will be loyal and more dedicated to their jobs, yielding stronger results.