It turns out the key to a great company is happy employees, and creating happy employees isn’t as hard as you might think.
What matters to employees? Time. Freedom of expression. Feeling connected to a process. Family. Respect. Fair compensation.
These aren’t terribly complex or convoluted concepts, they’re basic stuff, and if you can create an environment where people are fairly compensated, feel valued, and where their time with family and relaxation time are considered paramount, you’ll net big returns in productivity and loyalty. And you’ll have a happy work environment where creativity and energy flow, and your business thrives as a result.
Some of the bigger companies out there know this, and are cultivating employee satisfaction in a variety of ways. Google has a full time ‘culture czar’, whose sole focus is to ensure happiness among the company’s employees. Some companies offer dog sitting, or on site fitness facilities, some which include acupuncture and chiropractic services, or PTO for community-based projects, or on site barber, dry cleaning, and concierge services to ensure their employees’ chores get done. Other companies offer generous 401K contributions, health benefits, and other perks that translate to a financial boost and added security for their employees. The offers vary, but the theme is all about making employees’ lives a little better in the end.
Little companies can do any number of things to foster happiness; a little creativity and dedication to the effort is all it takes. Birthday celebrations, company picnics and activities away from work, team bonding events and even simple theme weeks and potluck gatherings help coalesce and form a sense of belonging and contribution.
One of my favorite recent retailer moments occurred when Costco announced they’d be closed on Thanksgiving so their employees could enjoy the holiday with family and friends. Go Costco! Needless to say, Walmart’s decision to not only be open on Thanksgiving, but to open two hours earlier? Not an ideal scenario for those poor employees who will now have to enjoy the entire holiday at double-speed so they can report for retail madness while their turkey digests.
Deciding what kind of a company you want to be, and making that happen within the framework of your size, scope and maturity will go a long way to creating happy employees who will go the distance as you grow your business.