By RedBalloon for Business

How to look after your employee needs

Looking out for employee needs and signs you’re not meeting them is crucial. You’ve noticed something strange in your team members. There’s something about their behaviour that wreaks of unhappiness and disinterest.

Maybe they’ve been getting to work later every day, deadlines keep getting pushed back, or the willingness they once had to have their say has worn off. As their manager, you can tell something’s wrong.

If you don’t do something soon, you’re going to lose them.

According to a 2012 study conducted by Kelly OCG, many employees feel directionless and disposable; less than half (44%) of employees worldwide reporting feeling valued by their employers, and only 48% say their current job provides them with meaning. As their leader, you have a big impact on whether those disengaged employees stay or go. Here are four things you can do to help them out:

Check in, and keep your mind open

Schedule a 1:1 meeting with your employees; block out at least half an hour to catch up. Find out if anything has changed when it comes to their personal vision, goals and values. Are they still aligned to those of your organisation? Is the job they’re doing or the projects they’re part of still giving them the right balance of challenge and satisfaction? If not, ask your employee what they’re looking for. It might be time to adjust priorities or expand their ability to work in other areas and with other teams.

Give them something to care about

Allowing employees to see how they fit into the larger picture activates their sense of belonging, effectiveness and meaning. “New research shows there is a strong correlation between happiness and meaning,” says Jennifer Aaker from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “In fact, having a meaningful impact on the world around you is actually a better predictor of happiness than many other things you think will make you happy.”

Meaning is more important now than ever. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta found that people who focused on the meaning and purpose in their work experienced a 60% drop in absenteeism and a 75% reduction in turnover.

Open the feedback loop

David Niu, founder of TINYpulse and author of Careercation, stresses it’s critical for employers not to lose touch with their employees. One way he’s done this successfully is to ensure there is a way for employees to give anonymous feedback, and that feedback is actioned.

“I won’t answer a survey unless I’m convinced that doing so will benefit me,” wrote Bruce Kasanoff in a recent Forbes article about David Niu’s approach, “Employees are no different. If you use employee feedback to create a spectacular place to work, you’ll enjoy frank and useful guidance from your team. It really is that simple.”

Recognise the little things

One really simple, free way to boost happiness and morale in your employees is to say “thank you” when they do a good job. “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated,” said William James, psychologist and philosopher. Did they meet a deadline or deliver early? Did they handle a customer complaint well? Did they show initiative and take on a task they didn’t need to? Then tell them you appreciate it. Positive reinforcement not only makes the person receiving it happy, it also boosts your mood and outlook on the organisation.

“Happiness is a daily journey,”James Key Lim, an early leader at Zappos, said in an interview with Fast Company. In order to avoid staff feeling disillusioned and disengaged, employers need to put in the hard work to cultivate happier employees. It’s not a matter of “setting and forgetting,” it requires daily reinforcement and conscious effort from leaders, every single day.

How does your business rate on appreciating and valuing your staff, whilst ensuring employees know how they contribute and belong to your organisation? What have you done to turn the boat around when your team is heading for a rocky patch?


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