how to keep employees happy and motivated

Customer happiness is one of the most revered tenets of business. Most business owners rightfully place a strong focus on the needs and desires of their customers  – AND – shouldn’t employee happiness also be prioritized?

In the corporate workplace culture, a happy working environment plays a crucial role in determining productivity, innovation and satisfaction. Many business owners would like to learn how to keep employees happy and motivated, but find themselves overwhelmed with trying to please all of their employees. Thankfully, there are many ways to motivate employees and increase productivity that will help improve your workplace environment as a whole.

Why Is a Happy Workplace Important?

A happy work environment generates benefits for business owners, employees, and ultimately, customers. In a study cited by Harvard Business Review, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents and 60% more errors and defects, when compared to engaged workers. As a business owner, accidents and errors are frustrating and costly, but for customers, an error may permanently end a potentially lucrative business arrangement.

Happy employees are generally more innovative and productive than their unhappy peers. Because they enjoy being at work, employees in a happy workplace are absent less often, have fewer accidents at work and make fewer errors in their assignments. 

Picture a traditional “water cooler conversation.” You’re probably imagining folks standing around venting about a frustrating meeting, an incompetent manager or a new corporate policy. What if the workers in this scenario were part of a happy workplace? The conversation would be more positive, encouraging and refreshing. Happy workers can help create a harmonious and positive work environment. Moreover, such people are more committed to work and are eager to put in effort beyond their job descriptions. And you can make it happen by learning how to make employees happy and productive at the workplace.

Businesses with happy employees and a positive workplace environment often save money because their employees are engaged and present. A corporate motivational speaker can help you learn how to create a happy workplace.

How to Create a Happy Workforce

Finding what makes each employee on your team happy is a challenging feat, but there are several ways to engage your employees to create a happier workforce overall. Next, let’s examine a few ideas to improve workplace morale and how to keep employees happy and motivated, including policy changes and culture shifts to engage your employees and increase your productivity factor.

1. Greet Your Team

A little “hello” goes a long way in the workplace. Your team members want to feel and be happy, so give them a little nudge in the morning with a big smile that says, “I’m happy you are here and I want you to love your job.” Greeting your team in the morning helps to set a positive tone for the day, so that your employees will be off to a strong start. Make your peppy office debut a routine, and your team members may begin mimicking your welcoming gesture to one another, putting everyone in a better mood and snowballing into a long-term positive vibe increase.

There’s no need to limit your routine to the morning, though. Pop around the office periodically and see how everyone is doing. Ask your team how their weekend was, and check in to see if anyone needs assistance with ongoing projects. In doing so, you’ll help your employees view you as a resource and partner working alongside them towards the common goal of success for the business.

2. Appreciate and Recognize Their Work

By the time adults reach the workforce, the days of getting gold stars for a good job are long gone. However, the need for appreciation of one’s hard work doesn’t disappear with age. The #1 reason Americans leave their jobs is that they feel underappreciated at work, not because of their low salary, limited vacation days or not enough flexibility for life outside of work. In fact, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they knew they would be recognized for their efforts. Taking time throughout the week to show your employees that you appreciate and recognize their work is a small commitment with endless potential, and it allows you to participate in one of the many ways an employee can improve performance.

Try starting with gratitude. Research found that when people experience gratitude from their manager, they’re more productive. Saying an extra “thank you” after a meeting or a tough assignment can boost employee morale and re-energize your team. Modeling gratitude when interacting with your team will also help to incorporate more respect and recognition into your company culture. 

Create routines that allow your employees to share stories with you about what they’re doing or working on. This can make them feel “known” by you and you can stay in the loop on what’s happening within your organization. During these routines, you can also designate a time or space for employees to celebrate each other’s wins and recognize the help they’ve received from other team members. Another researcher found that teams perform tasks better when their members believe that their colleagues respect and appreciate them. Using routines to facilitate these interactions will help your employees adopt these new practices with ease.

By offering praise, recognition and positive and developmental feedback your team will be excited and eager to contribute more work to your company. However, it’s important to recognize that each member of your team will respond to feedback differently. During your onboarding process, ask team members how they want to be recognized for a job well done. For existing employees, send out a quick email or commence a team huddle to get their feedback on how they prefer to be recognized or complimented when and where credit is due. For some, it may be a quick “You did it!” shout-out during a meeting. For others, it might be a one-on-one positive feedback session. By showing them that you not only appreciate their efforts, but also want to encourage them in a way that best supports them, you’ll be creating a happy working environment that will increase productivity and employee retention.

3. Foster Social Connections by Creating Corporate Events / Interact with Your Colleagues

One of the biggest benefits of having a healthy workplace environment is that it can help build unbreakable teams and foster positive morale inside and outside the office. We all work better when we know someone has our back. One of the more fun ideas to improve workplace happiness is having team-building events where employees play together, laugh together and solve problems together goes a long way to cultivate happiness and fulfillment. By moving outside of the workplace, employees can build new connections with their team members in a more relaxed environment. Working with a motivational speaker for corporate events can be an inspiring addition to energize your team.

A large number of empirical studies confirm that positive social connections at work produce highly desirable results. Toxic, stress-filled workplaces impact social relationships and, consequently, life expectancy. Your employees spend a lot of time interacting with each other, and positive work relationships will produce better collaboration for meetings and projects. If you are ready to supercharge your team, strengthen their ability to effortlessly overcome any challenges and turn them into a happier and more productive workforce, consider booking Adam Markel as your next corporate motivational speaker

4. Show Empathy 

As a leader, you have a huge impact on how your employees feel. A telling brain-imaging study found that when employees recalled a leader that had been unkind or un-empathetic, they showed increased activation in areas of the brain associated with avoidance and negative emotion while the opposite was true when they recalled an empathetic leader.

Cultivating empathy as a leader allows you to create bonds of trust. It gives you insight into what others are feeling and thinking, and it helps you understand their reactions. At its foundation, empathy informs your decision-making by sharpening your perceptions and intuition. By building trust through empathy, your employees are more likely to communicate with you when facing challenges. This improved relationship can reduce mistakes, missed deadlines and avoidance of workplace problems, thus benefiting you and your customers.

5. Be a Good Listener

Of course, empathy involves listening to your employees to better understand their perspectives. Workload pressure, including tight deadlines, too much responsibility and lack of managerial support, has long been considered a major contributor to workplace stress. 

The skill of managing stress is lacking in a big way in the workplace. Individuals are still working in exhaustion mode; they’re expected to do more with less, early and under budget, while juggling families and even health conditions. This leads to absenteeism, disease in the body, distraction at work, poor engagement and sub-par performance. This simply compounds stress.

Adam Markel believes organizations and individuals can learn how to recover in proportion to the amount of stress they are handling by getting recovery systems in place that allow them to come back to their tasks and deliver again and again. By listening to your employees and identifying times when they need additional recovery, you can proactively manage the level of stress in the workplace. Stress can be channeled into productivity, but only when the proper recovery time is provided.

Adam Markel’s stress management keynote components revolve around resilience training. He shares ideas for recovery, which include rituals and a process for recognizing, handling and dealing with stress that is normal, natural and key to growth.

6. Make Work Fulfilling

Everybody wants to feel like what they’re doing at work matters. Simply coming to the office daily and exchanging time for money is not a fulfilling way to live. In order for team members to feel good about the work they are producing, they need to fully understand the company’s mission and purpose. So, it’s your job to make sure they know what that looks like.

Help them understand what each department does, why they do it and how they contribute to the overall success of the company. When employees see the inner workings of the organization from all angles and perspectives, they feel better connected to the business and to each other, and are therefore more committed to making it a success. 

7. Address Growth Opportunities

Another reason that employees consider leaving their workplace is a lack of career progression. A study found that for every additional 10 months an employee stagnates in a role, they are 1 percent more likely to leave the company. It makes sense—nobody likes to feel stuck, under-stimulated and bored. Like many of the points above, communication goes a long way in keeping your employees motivated in this area.

Establishing a clear career pathway for each employee is one way to solve this problem. The employee is no longer disenfranchised and the company gets a more skilled workforce. By having an understanding of their career trajectory within your organization, your employees will be able to set goals that help them work towards their ideal position. It’s one of the more impactful ways an employee can improve performance. As a business owner, this will ultimately help you reduce workforce turnover and save on hiring and training costs. This methodology will also empower your employees and give them a sense of ownership of their role, which will increase your organization’s productivity factor.

8. Work-Life Harmony

Work-life balance and work-life harmony may seem similar, but they are not synonymous. Work-life balance refers to how people manage the time they dedicate to work and the time they spend on other activities. Work-life harmony involves incorporating work into the rest of life in a way that promotes happiness, both at home and in the office.

Think of it this way: Time is finite. You can never get it back. But energy is different. Energy is a force that you can turn up and down. By teaching your employees to identify how much time they have and how much energy they need to dedicate to a certain project, they can approach tasks in a way that does not leave them overworked and depleted. Instead, they’ll actually feel more powerful because they’re harmonizing their energy with their personal and professional goals.

Sharing these concepts during strategy sessions before the start of a new project is a great way to begin to shift the way your employees approach time and energy management. Ultimately, you can hire a keynote speaker to re-energize your team and to help them increase their overall productivity by outlining simple steps for recovery to achieve work-life harmony.

9. Provide Flexible Hours to Your Employees

In working towards work-life harmony, consider your employees’ schedules and the impact they have on overall productivity. Be open to providing flexible work hours and remote options for your employees. Flexible schedules significantly increase employee productivity and morale, plus they show empathy and understanding towards the life factors that affect your team outside of the workplace. Flexible schedules allow a level of freedom to create their work schedules and achieve work-life harmony.

10. Take Feedback Graciously

Just as feedback is essential for your employees to understand how they’re performing, feedback from your employees can help you realize your drawbacks as a leader. Your leadership style has a strong effect on the productivity and success of your employees, so listening to how they perceive your relationship will only help to improve your business relationship. Being able to take feedback and criticism positively, and working to improve, is one of the critical factors of great leaders. Good listening can also pave the way for new ideas to improve workplace happiness for all. 

11. Offer Benefits Beyond the Basics

There are a number of ways you can financially support your employees that’ll make them feel valued and cared for without a salary increase. Offering things like gym memberships or health & well-being benefits makes employees feel like you are going that extra mile to take care of them and their families. It also reminds them that you’re prioritizing work-life harmony. 

People who are happy at work tend to enjoy life more and have better health, stronger relationships and a greater sense of purpose. They also have a huge positive impact on the organization they work for. Those with strong mental and physical wellness find it easier to concentrate and apply themselves to a task, often producing the strongest results for the company. Providing wellness benefits for use in or out of the office is one of the many ways to motivate employees and increase productivity for your team.

Another way to contribute to employee wellness can be through working with a motivational speaker for corporate events. These professionals know how to make employees happy and productive at the workplace by using their skilled motivation techniques that inspire creativity and increase understanding of other people and working styles.    

12. Invest in Ongoing Professional Development

Personal development is a basic human need. Your employees need to continue to grow in order to feel fulfilled. When employees feel stagnant, that’s when many start scrolling through the job boards in search of something new. While providing upward mobility within your organization is great, providing additional opportunities for employees to cultivate their existing skills and learn new ones are excellent ways to motivate employees and increase productivity.

There are many ways to provide these opportunities for your team. You can offer training programs or invite resilience keynote speakers to your workplace. As experts in employee happiness, they will help to motivate your employees and empower them to give their best effort at work.

How Adam Markel Can Help You Create a Happier and Productive Workforce

Adam Markel is a corporate motivational speaker who specializes in creating a happy workplace, employee resilience, work-life harmony and more. If you’re ready to take the next step to learn how to keep employees happy and motivated, empower your employees and build a happier and more productive workforce, connect with Adam to set up a motivational event for your team.