No one is always 100% happy with their job. Of course, there are also bad days or phases when things just don’t go well. But many employees are also dissatisfied with the general conditions of their job.
On the one hand, there is the famous shortage of skilled workers, which leads to an overload of existing employees. This can be seen very clearly in the nursing sector. There is a shortage of nurses, so the existing employees have to work more to manage the workload. But strictly hierarchically managed companies also lead to job frustration.
Instructions come from the top, but ideas, suggestions for improvement and reality do not reach the top floor. Outdated structures, outdated thinking and the well-known “We’ve always done it this way here” are the overkill for dissatisfaction.
So what makes employees happy?
Zack, there you have it: Your employees feel valued. This method works in projects, too. Highlight the positive results and make it clear that a mistake is not the end of the world, but an incentive to do better. This attitude also relaxes your employees and, incidentally, helps them to overcome their fear of making mistakes, to dare to come up with alternative solutions, and ultimately to gain valuable experience that will be helpful in the next project.
Important in your appreciative communication: mean what you say! Your counterpart immediately senses whether you are being honest. The same applies to enthusiasm. Many executives and managers need to learn this (again). Joy about one’s own work and the results achieved, as well as shared enthusiasm for a challenge or a completed project, or simply a great day’s work brings people together and makes them happy. Employees feel a sense of belonging when they see this exemplary behavior, and the approval of others boosts their own self-confidence.
Appreciative gestures can also help: Why not bring your secretary a bouquet of flowers and thank her in general for being there? Or ask how your counterpart is doing and show empathy.
You notice that one of your employees is obviously not feeling well? Ask him to come into your office at the end of the day and have a beer together. Ask your trainee if he has any suggestions on how the training could be better. Vote on a team event together with the employees.
You have so many opportunities to show appreciation to your employees. Start now and watch your employees change over time!
Nothing is worse for a person than doing the same tasks over and over in the same way for the same results. This doesn’t mean the general scope of work, but a truly mindless activity.
A real life example: My wife was assigned to different departments during her training. In the last stage of the training, about half a year before the end, she came to the last department and was extremely bad-tempered after only two weeks.
The reason was the job she had been assigned to. Providing orders with order numbers, scanning them in, sending them out. When the delivery was made, she checked off the order form in the system, renamed the file name, printed it out and filed it away. That was her job, day after day, 8 hours straight, with no variation, always in the same order.
Even a carefully made “complaint” was ignored, with the statement that the lady in charge was just about to retire and needed the support. Or the other way around: We don’t feel like dealing with you and showing you what else we do.
Personal responsibility for a diverse range of tasks, on the other hand, allows people to flourish. Wherever there is room for own ideas and ways of working, there is a high probability that good results will be achieved! And if you have the chance to work on your own responsibility, to make mistakes and to develop yourself further, the chances of being satisfied with your job are pretty good.
Always remember: Rarely is a mistake so serious that it cannot be corrected. There is also a most pleasant side effect that bosses also need to (re)learn: Giving up control. If employees are allowed to make decisions in their area of responsibility – even those that cost money – then they should be allowed to do so to a certain extent.
Imagine your secretary wants to know which restaurant to choose for a business lunch. Or which Christmas cards to send this year. Or whether she may order the office materials at the price of 133,42€. This also costs you time and your employee personal responsibility.
Attention, reminder of point 1: Transfer the responsibility to the employees, set the parameters, don’t waste your time on other people’s tasks and say: “Mrs. Maier, you know much better than I do which restaurant is suitable, which card is the nicest and that the costs for the office supplies are certainly justified.”
And already you have made personal responsibility possible and even expressed your appreciation. Ingenious, isn’t it?
Very important, especially for younger employees, and hard to imagine modern society without it: flexibility. This is an important skill that employers repeatedly gloss over in job advertisements, because employers mean, for example, different working hours, work locations, and areas of responsibility and duties.
What employees mean by flexibility is something completely different: being allowed to take spontaneous vacations, home office, versatile tasks, work-life balance, flextime, adapting the workday to private needs as well, e.g. medical or office appointments. Certainly, there are types of operations for which flexibility is not a good fit. Here we are talking in particular about system-relevant professions and businesses, such as hospitals and the police, but also sales, restaurants or kindergartens.
But: Within a certain framework and with a little creativity, a swing of flexibility can be accommodated here as well. And especially for office workplaces, this is easy to implement. Try it out and show that you want to do something good for your employees and take changing needs into account.
Let’s take the example of flextime: It is regulated that work begins at 08:30. Have you ever thought about the fact that a mother or father has to rush incredibly hard to get the child to kindergarten on time and then has to chase through rush-hour traffic to get to work on time?
Honestly, that’s bound to put you in a bad mood. It even starts when your employee gets up in the morning. Getting yourself ready for the day, dragging the kid out of bed, getting the unloved washing/dressing done and then hearing: “Ew I don’t like that” when in all the stress you’ve conjured up a little breakfast. So your employee arrives at the office already stressed and rushed.
Do you want that? How good do you think the results are that are delivered that day? If instead you introduce a flexitime system that says, for example: start work between 08.00 and 09.00, you relieve your employees and take pressure off them. In addition, those who like to start early can come earlier and those who need more time in the morning are less stressed.
The results and also the mood will improve noticeably! Also, ask yourself, “Am I paying my employees for their time or their value?”
Modern structures, workflows & work equipment!
Let’s start with modern structures. Modern office structures in the spatial sense offer freer working. This is often reflected in open-space offices, because the absence of constricting walls or small cubicle offices helps to overcome barriers in the mind. The open-space office also accommodates cross-team work styles, promotes communication, and the faster and more open exchange of information also increases work efficiency.
Flexibility is also a keyword here! Working areas can be separated by movable walls, and areas where sofas, seating and smaller tables are arranged are also suitable for meetings. A modern workflow, on the other hand, means above all the workflow.
What about file storage? Complete chaos? Think about bringing files together in a smart digital system. Your employees can access the data they need from anywhere (keyword Home-Office & Covid 19), teams can work together on files, annoying searching around in hundreds of directories is a thing of the past – including the loss of time! This is where CRM’s (Custom Relationship Management) come in handy. Not only does it revolutionize the way your business works – it’s also a service to customers (a la “I bought a bed from you once, now I need the same mattress as the one that came with it!”) and you could do much more effective – and above all efficient – marketing. Sometimes you could even track who worked on which file and when. This control function can sometimes be helpful due to data protection regulations.
By the way, you can find more content on data protection at our friends at Datenschutz ist Pflicht.
Modern work equipment also makes employees happy! Anyone who has ever had to scan hundreds of pages with an outdated printer knows what we mean here. Modern PCs and up-to-date software also make work easier. And if you make your employees’ work noticeably easier, they in turn work more happily, faster and with fewer interruptions. If you set this against the costs, you will find in most cases that the time savings are usually worth the purchase and operating costs.
On a side note, modern equipment is more energy efficient. Again, a win-win situation for both sides!
Friendly & beautiful
Something you can implement immediately without investing a single cent is the famous clean desk policy. This states that the desk must be tidy at the end of the working day. Apply this rule consistently! In addition to a nicer visual image, the clean desk policy offers another advantage that starts in the psyche of your employees.
An empty, tidy workplace in the morning offers your employees emptiness and tidiness in their minds. And this inner space can be filled with the current work topics. Employees tend to pull out the documents for a task. They concentrate better because there are no distracting other documents cluttering their heads and desks. You could extend this clean desk policy to the desktop, by the way.
Goodbye file chaos on the start screen! And how does this benefit you as an entrepreneur or manager? Again, your employees will be more efficient in performing their tasks. But friendly and beautiful workplaces can do much more! Some well-kept plants in the office please the eye, absorb sound and improve the air quality.
Light also plays an important role – well-lit workspaces are a must! Make sure that dirty corners in the office disappear, the rooms look presentable and your employees feel comfortable. And with small (or even large) measures you have created a win-win situation!
& avoid overloading!
Mutual consideration creates a good feeling in both parties, a feeling of attentiveness, sympathy and helpfulness. This cornerstone is essential to a team that strives together to achieve goals and leaves no team member hanging along the way. This is accompanied by overload, usually triggered by an overly extensive range of tasks and countless additional tasks that somehow always come along as well. The result is permanent stress and time pressure at work, rising feelings of anger towards colleagues – who seem to have time for casual conversation or smoking breaks in between – and ultimately poorer work results, because time pressure rarely leaves time for accuracy.
Those who are overloaded try to run after their tasks with overtime and subsequently have less time for regeneration. This vicious circle can also be broken by close observation. As a rule, a team member notices when a colleague is permanently overloaded. This is where consideration kicks in again – can I take some work off your hands? Should we redistribute some tasks / create a new workplace?
In this way, trust and appreciation for one’s own team and one’s own company are strengthened again, the work results turn out better again, the mood rises – and tasks are probably completed faster overall because they are distributed over several shoulders. As a manager, do you want this mentality for your team? Set an example!
Sooner or later you will notice that your team follows your example. In case of your own overload, you as a manager can also hand over tasks – and sometimes even take over tasks from your team! What sounds like additional work from “foreign” areas of expertise has several advantages: You will be perceived as a team member and the team members will be more open and familiar, which can be a decisive advantage in future situations. In addition, you’ll show that you can lend a hand wherever there’s a need – another positive characteristic of a manager that will send the sympathy bar shooting through the roof.
And last but not least, you have valuable insights into the work areas of your team and can assess much better who is busy and who is overloaded – and who could perhaps still quietly take over a task!
It’s the common goal, of course! And of course it is the same in companies. The department, or much better named, the accounting team, has one big, common goal: clean accounting, accurate ratios, on-time incoming and outgoing payments. To achieve this, this team has a huge pile of regular and irregular tasks, plus a pool of employees with different skills and a regulated distribution of tasks.
This team communicates with each other, exchanges information and works on tasks together; if necessary, teammates substitute for each other and know each other’s task areas and responsibilities. Important to make such a “department” a “team“: Each team member knows the big common goal and the importance of each task, no matter how big or small. Common rules and values help to rely on each other.
In addition, work and finding solutions is much easier when all team members are friendly to all other team members. And this is where practical problems often arise. It is an impossibility that everyone likes everyone else. No question, you don’t have to be friends with everyone, but complete dislike puts a strain on the working relationship, the team feeling, the work results and every conversation with each other. Once the dislike is there, the child has already fallen into the well and the only way to limit the damage is through mediation.
However, there are hundreds of methods to strengthen the team spirit as a whole – by the way, you can find some short team exercises in the Back to Basics training. What also strengthens the team feeling are joint activities. This doesn’t just mean going out to eat together! For example, have your team solve a task together – one that is fun to do in the first place.
Search for team events and you will quickly find what you are looking for. Building a boat together, escaping a puzzle room together, racing on the go-kart track – the possibilities are almost endless and shared memories weld together!
& Try out new things
The fact is: we learn throughout our lives. And learning new things keeps us mentally fit, makes us think around corners more often and promotes creative solution finding. Broad knowledge is also a great advantage for a company! The IT’ler who has long been interested in photography & graphic design: Perfectly suited for further training, because the next team pictures for web or business card will be created by him. You don’t have to rely on external service providers anymore, the next salary round is postponed due to this benefit and you show appreciation.
What about your team assistant who is so interested in Spanish culture? A level B2 language certification might be something – and you’ll get another foreign language on your team that might come in handy.
No matter what it is: Find out what interests your employees and promote these interests, even if they are obviously of no use to the company at first. From this, the employee often develops an unexpected motivation, which is also noticeable in the work performance. Another idea that creates interesting situations: Temporarily put colleagues from other disciplines together!
The view over the edge lets us discover what suits us and what doesn’t – and the appreciation for the work outside the specialist area increases. Always think about the long-term effects – and about the fact that your employees – and their new skills – will most likely stay longer in the company!
Absolutely essential for your corporate philosophy, however, is authenticity. If you and your company do not act according to these values, credibility is quickly lost – not only with your own employees, but also with customers, partners and suppliers. Think about your corporate philosophy carefully – ideally together with your team. Because the philosophy is the result of the current culture.
Once the corporate philosophy is in place, the real work begins: repetition without end, the selected values must be visually present and tangible. In addition, work areas, tasks, products, etc. are adapted to this corporate philosophy. It helps you to set goals with a time frame and a process.
Example: By 2022, we will send invoices to our customers completely digitally (saving resources). Those who insist on a paper invoice will pay 2,50€ extra for the burden on resources (fair) – the extra costs will be donated to Amnesty International (transparent + fair + social). This is an authentic and realistic goal that follows the company philosophy.
Of course there are further advantages for your company:
- Employees identify with your company and talk about it.
- The awareness of the company increases, which helps among other things to win new customers or applicants. This honest and serious company philosophy can also be used to develop an extensive marketing campaign.
- Content without end for the own website and social media channels, for lectures, events, local, national or international media, e.g. in the form of interviews with press representatives, industry experts and so on.
Of course, this is more than a simple improvement – it’s a way that also helps improve employee satisfaction. And if you don’t want it to be quite that big: A philosophy of how you and your team treat each other is also great and guaranteed to help.
Enabler für authentische Unternehmensführung
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