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Updated: Jul 6, 2015
When it comes to your business’ success, the importance of employee happiness can’t be overstated: your team is your greatest asset, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop corner market. So how do you make the best use of their talents?
According to the Harvard Business Review, happy employees outperform their less satisfied coworkers in sales, energy levels, turnover rates and health-care costs by as much as 30 percent. Here are our top three tips for keeping a happy (and extra productive!) workforce:
Hire great people, and trust them to make great decisions. It sounds so simple, but giving your employees the freedom to make their own choices has a big impact on employee happiness.
At Funding Circle, we stopped tracking time off and launched an unlimited vacation policy. Our employees can take as much paid time off as they need, as long as they consistently accomplish their goals and get their work done.
This saves money and time, because we no longer have to monitor days off or pay out unused time off if someone leaves. It also emphasizes the quality of our employee’s work, rather than the amount of time they’re in the office.
We also offer a no-muss, no-fuss ergonomics program: if someone needs equipment to make their workstation more comfortable, there are no hoops to jump through– all they have to do is ask. Standing desks and keyboard trays can be expensive, but for us the benefits of happy, healthy workers outweigh the extra cost. In the long term, these investments can actually save you money– $2.43 for every $1 spent, to be exact!
Even if your small business margins are too thin to provide things like unlimited time off and decked-out work stations, you can still make changes to workplace operations that create a culture of freedom.
Encourage employees at every level of the organization to actively contribute ideas, whether it’s an adjustment to the way you take inventory or spearheading a new marketing initiative.
Creating situations for people to develop and nurture relationships has many benefits: friendships are formed, ideas are exchanged, and employees get to know their coworkers outside of the “water cooler” context.
But, there’s an extra incentive to help your employees develop relationships with each other: social support is indelibly linked to employee happiness. And surprisingly enough, employees who provide social support are 40 percent more likely to succeed at work.
Funding Circle hosts a variety of events to help our teams get to know each other and strengthen social relationships. Our weekly Fiesta Friday happy hour events are a great way for new and veteran employees to connect in an informal setting, and monthly Trivia Night games add some healthy competition to the mix. We’ve also made it a policy to host one large event each quarter where everyone can get together and have some fun.
There are also plenty of ways to encourage sociability without spending a dime. Think of free alternatives, like Funding Circle’s new-joiner buddy program. Every new employee is assigned a work buddy: someone from a different team who’s responsible for greeting them on their first day and checking in with them over the course of the first few weeks. This not only makes the new-joiner feel welcome, it also gets them started with a cross-team friendship right off the bat and sets the tone for an open environment where people interact beyond their everyday work responsibilities.
Employee happiness and engagement at work directly correlates with overall job satisfaction and higher company net profit margins, so engaging your workers is a win-win for everyone. One way to foster greater engagement is to make sure your employees are empowered to grow.
When an employee feels their talents aren’t being fully utilized by their current position, job engagement wanes. To avoid this, invest as much in your employees’ careers as they do.
Funding Circle offers regular management trainings for junior and senior managers through The Mind Gym, and everyone at the company can take advantage of our corporate subscription to Udemy, an online learning marketplace with over 30,000 courses. Skill acquisition is a great way to keep an employee growing, and investing in their skills also demonstrates your continued commitment to their success.
Don’t forget: new skills are no fun unless your employees have the opportunity to use them, so at Funding Circle, our team members are encouraged to ask for additional or different responsibilities. By taking on new tasks, employees are able to stretch their abilities and explore their interests.
Even businesses that don’t have the resources for formal trainings can empower their employees to grow. Meetings with the entire team lead by senior managers or owners to review best practices and learn new skills are invaluable, especially for junior team members.
Maintaining employee happiness is an ongoing challenge, but the numbers don’t lie. With a more productive and engaged team, everything is up and to the right — retention, productivity and net profit — so the extra effort is definitely worth it.
Ready to grow your small business? Apply today for a term loan to help you hire and inspire new and existing employees.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.