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The secret to happier employees

July 10, 2017

“Your employees are your greatest asset,” is a phrase probably everyone in business has heard. Happy employees mean higher retention, increased efficiency, and happier customers. Happy employees are also good for managers and owners, because it means less time spent recruiting replacements, better customer service, and thus more repeat customers.

So the benefits for improving employee morale are obvious. But how does one go about it?

1. Offer flexible schedules.

Over two thirds of all service-industry employees are under 35 years old, where 3 out 10 fall into the 19-26 age bracket. In many cases, they’re students, balancing not only a job, but also class, homework, and extracurricular activities.

The good news is that with employee scheduling software like Homebase, offering flexible scheduling doesn’t have to add to your workload as a manager. Employees can proactively publish their availabilities so you’ll have them at your fingertips as you’re building the schedule and, if something comes up after the schedule has already been published, they can trade shifts in the mobile app (with your approval).

2. Try to be predictable and consistent.

Recently, The NY Times profiled a 22-year old employee struggling to provide childcare while balancing an ever-changing work schedule. She reported that she rarely learned her schedule more than 3 days before the start of a workweek—too late to find a babysitter (and tough to find a consistent babysitter generally, since they were searching for predictable work themselves).

A lot of businesses still using paper or spreadsheets publish the schedule once a week, often on Sundays. For people who sometimes work on Monday, that means if there’s a change in their hours, they don’t have any time to prepare. It also makes it difficult to predict income, which leads to an overall sense of anxiety.

By using scheduling software like Homebase, you can publish and revise schedules as necessary, and your employees will get updates (along with shift reminders), so they’ll know well in advance when they’re scheduled to work next. One business owner in Portland we talked to now publishes employee schedules three weeks in advance, and her team loves it.

3. Offer training and opportunities for advancement.

Providing training and the ability to employees to gain skills can be greatly improve their contentment (and productivity) within their work. You might consider allowing employees to cross-train in other departments, which will also save you on labor costs during slow periods. Additionally, consider paying for relevant seminars or classes, even if it’s something as simple as CPR training or food safety certification (which is also a win-win for your business).

4. Reward results.

Of course, money drives employee happiness, so make sure you reward your star employees. Results that go unnoticed can be very deflating to employees and makes them feel undervalued. Look at ways to keep track of employees that consistently perform and reward appropriately. Your employees will appreciate the recognition and feel inspired to continue their efforts.

An easy way to start—reward your employees who consistently show up on time. They’re team players, and they’re helping keep your overtime costs down.

If you track sales closely, consider an incentive for your star salespeople. One retail owner we talked to in Decatur, GA sets a sales target for each week, and offers bonuses to the team once they exceed that goal. It’s a great idea because the team wins when the business wins, so everyone’s incentives are perfectly aligned.

5. Communicate clearly and often.

Communication is fundamental to any relationship, but it’s particularly important in the workplace. Celebrate your team when things go well, and be clear when they don’t meet your expectations with instructions on how they can do better next time. Frame the conversation as a learning opportunity for lifelong skills they’ll need throughout their careers, rather than something particular to this job. Everyone wants to know how they’re doing, what they’re really good at and how they can be better.

[image: Busy Waiter by Ralph Daily on flickr]

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