Online retail giant, Zappos is a recognized leader in creating ways to foster happier employees. In fact, who hasn’t heard about Zappos’ reputation as one of the best places to work?
However, does this mean that smaller companies without a Zappos-sized budget are doomed to less satisfied employees? Not exactly.
Employee happiness isn’t just about the stuff you can offer. A competitive salary and gym membership are important, but they are utterly meaningless if employees hate the person they work for or feel as though they are stuck on a dead-end path with limited career growth.
So, if you want to increase employee happiness and cultivate a harmonious workplace here are five simple, and budget-friendly, ways to do it:
1. Focus on growth.
Sometimes it seems like Starbucks baristas gets more on-the-job training than a new hire at a startup. Great employees want to grow, develop, and be challenged. That is why it’s important to create a true learning environment.
While this means that your small business may need to make funding available for training and development, there are other budget-friendly ways to build an engaging and challenging environment. For example, support hack-offs and extra-curricular projects. Encourage committees that tackle issues that matter most to your employees. Lastly, provide developmental assignments that teach new skills and foster career growth and track changes.
2. Encourage social activities.
While extracurricular activities like free breakfasts and staff parties cost money, there are countless things you can do that won’t cost your company a penny. Be creative. Host off-site poker games, karaoke nights, and weekly employee-led yoga classes to cultivate a fun and healthy environment.
Given that we spend so much of our waking hours in the workplace, it is not enough that employees respect and trust one another; true employee engagement comes when colleagues seek out one another to spend time outside of office hours.
Employers can support extracurricular activities amongst employees by making matching funding available (e.g. for food and beverages), or by linking financial support to surpassing budgeted financial goals.
3. Be transparent.
Employees value transparency; this is particularly true with the millennial generation, but applies to all generations in the workplace.
For a healthy culture to form, you should be honest and open from the top down, even when it means sharing traditionally sensitive topics such as company financials and compensation details.
While only a small subset of organizations are willing to peel back the covers on such details, at FreshBooks we recently shared the mechanics of our yearly compensation and review process — and we intend to do so going forward.
Offering transparency on compensation engages employees and empowers their decision-making, so it is clear that there are no hidden agendas or backroom deals.