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Studies have shown that employees with high job satisfaction are generally more productive, engaged and loyal to their companies. According to a study done by Glassdoor, nearly four in five of employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase. So how do you make your employees happy?

1. Be transparent

It’s important to give employees feedback and listen to any concerns they have, but it’s what you do after that is critical to retention. You should always be transparent by sharing what you’ve learned and a course of action for addressing the issue. Don’t just communicate the companies top areas of success but also the areas for improvement and how you plan to address both pieces moving forward. If employees come to you with concerns or an issue you better have an action plan in place to address it instead of just hoping it will go away. If you continue to have monthly meeting with your employee and don’t address previous topics that were discussed you can bet on them losing trust in you and them feeling as though what they had discussed with you was not important and pretty soon they will cut off communication and become demotivated.

2. Offer more vacation time + flexibility

It is becoming more and more prevalent that employees will choose to become freelancers in order to pursue other ventures. Times are changing, they are becoming more flexible, and businesses will need to be able to accommodate their employees desired working arrangements. Flex scheduling / telecommuting offers many hidden benefits. The average business could save as much as $11,000 per person per year. And the commuter could save anywhere from $2,000-7,000. This also serves a greater purpose in regards to the number of cars on the road and the greenhouse gasses they emit. Studies show that 88 percent of millennials consider their work-life balance when choosing a job, while 74 percent say flexible work schedules are their priority. As for vacation time…Finland workers have an average of 40 vacation days a year, France workers also have an average of 40 vacation days, Austrians average 38 vacation days a year, Sweden workers have 36 vacation days a year – Starting to see the trend here? When you take more vacations, you relieve stress. Stress is a major health issue for workers, and has even been called the “New Tobacco” because of the physically damaging effects it creates for your body. Studies also show that men who don’t take regular vacations are 32 percent more likely to have heart attacks than those who do, and women are 50 percent more likely to have heart attacks if they don’t take vacations. Taking vacations is not only good for health but also for the company.

The freedom this method provides leads to more productive, less stressed and overall happier employees. Allowing workers this type of control over their schedules shows that the company recognizes employees have important lives outside the office. It also places an emphasis on the quality of the work done rather than the time it was done in. As long as the work is done at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what time it was completed in.

3. Make work-life balance a priority

Around 55 percent of the professionals surveyed in a new study by staffing firm Robert Half have increased their commitment to their personal life over the past year. Only 5 percent of those surveyed are not putting more effort into finding a healthier balance between their work and personal lives. Even though technology makes it possible for employees to be connected to the office even during time off, finding a better work-life balance is a key priority for many employees. The Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80% of the Fortune 500 companies, found that employees who believe that they have good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t after researching 50,000 global workers. A majority of all U.S. respondents, meanwhile, said they’d change jobs, change careers or even be willing to give up a promotion to achieve better work-life balance.

An additional study that relates to the topic above done by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 89 percent of HR professionals reported an increase in employee retention simply by launching the implementation of flexible work arrangements.. By having balance between employee’s professional and personal lives it makes for a happier, healthier, and less stressed workforce.

4. Encourage open communication

If you are going to lead a successful organization, you must create an environment with open communication and trust. Open communication allows employees to be more engaged and understand that what they do matters in the success of the business. Making sure your employees conceive the big picture and the part they play in the success of the organization will help them better understand why decisions are made and how those decisions impact them specifically as well as the company as a whole. Effective communication leads everyone to be on the same page; moving in the same direction toward the same goal. Poor communication creates havoc that can lead to higher turnover, apathy in the ranks and poor customer service. All of this can result in decreased sales and profits. And what organization wants that?

5. Create a career pathway

It’s critical for businesses to have regular career planning discussions with their employees. As part of training and development, make sure employees are aware of the different types of career paths or job opportunities throughout the company. A career development plan is a win for employers and employees. The plan focuses on the employees’ needs for growth and development and the assistance the organization can provide so that the employee has the opportunity to grow his or her career.

6. Promote a positive work environment

Happy employees make for a happy company. Publicly acknowledge accomplishments, provide a group lunch, reserve a prime parking space, or change a title. It’s also important to help employees grow and develop, whether by taking on new desired responsibilities or challenges, taking courses to learn new skills, or furthering knowledge of the company by traveling on company business trips. Another key in a positive work environment is the people you hire, making sure you are hiring the right people is vital to the health of the company. When employees are working alongside a high density of toxic workers, there is a large chance they will be effected by those people.

7. Set the example

Executives and managers shouldn’t underestimate the impact they have by walking into the office with a smile on their face and making sure they give the same feeling of importance to everyone. It’s also important to see managers happy and engaged. It sets the right tone for those in the lower levels of an organization who are closely watching (as most everyone is) how their leaders behave. It disarms any resentment that may be felt, rightly or wrongly, toward those in high managerial places. It’s difficult to resent managers who roll up their sleeves and wade into the trenches when they need to, and who share the same sacrifices their teams do.

8. Recognize your employees

Employees rarely become unhappy or leave solely over money. When they do become disenchanted it is usually because they don’t like their boss, aren’t engaged or feel like they have stopped learning. Having a positive culture and workplace environment helps a lot, as it encourages teamwork and communication which increases engagement and opportunities for teammates to learn from each other. It’s also nice for employers to do periodic “shout outs” to people at all levels of the organization for great work or superior effort. These kudos cost nothing but provide important public recognition for a job well done, effectively compensating people in the form of social currency is highly valued.

9. Offer benefits beyond the basics

There are so many ways to supplement an employees salary by assisting in other areas of their lives. You can offer an extra level of life insurance or disability insurance for employees to protect their incomes. Other ancillary benefits, such as dental, optical [and] wellness, are all well received by employees. And gym memberships and transit benefits are great perks to keep employees happy and healthy. It is important to provide higher benefits so your employees know that you truly care about them and their families.

10. Make employees part of the big picture

One thing that definitely motivates people is being a part of something bigger than themselves. The best benefit you can provide to your employees is the opportunity to make a difference through their work and help guide the course of the company. Benefits such as clear and frequent communication on company happenings, individual and department direction, and big-picture company direction make all the difference in employee happiness. Every leader, manager and employee wants to feel connected to their organization. People want to know what the company stands for and why, and to understand how their role supports the organization’s overarching purpose and goals. When employees understand their organization’s mission or vision it helps them to see their job as more than just a job.

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