Your business is only as strong as its weakest link, so motivated, enthused – happy – employees are the best kind. If you can’t find ways to keep staff on the sunny side of things, your venture may not realize its full potential.

What Do Workers Want?

Personal and professional preferences evolve over time, so it can be hard for employers to keep pace with shifting employee values and workplace demands. Fortunately for small business owners without large human resources budgets, timely surveys and studies provide insight into what it takes to keep employees happy in the early part of the twenty-first century.

One resource shedding light on workforce developments, the 2018 Global Talent Trends study, took a look at important employment issues, giving business owners the inside track on employee satisfaction. As you might expect, a generous compensation package, including competitive pay and benefits is important to workers, as well as workplace respect and professional support from their employers.

Among its additional findings, the Talent Trends study identified three distinct worker preferences, establishing a few of the top features employees and job candidates look for in a company.

Lasting Flexibility – The traditional 9 to 5, onsite workday no longer represents standard business practice. Communications and connectivity improvements now make it possible for global collaborators to connect from almost anywhere, so an operational home-base is not as important as it once was. As more and more employees work from home, many now view flexible remote work options as an added employer benefit.

According to the Global Talent Trends study, which polled executives, HR professionals, and 5000 employees, from more than 20 industries; at least 50 percent of staffers would like greater flexibility in the workplace. The study results underscore how important flexibility is to members of the modern workforce, including

  • Sprout Funding logoTelecommuting options
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Personal time off

Such measures facilitate positive work-life balance for staff members, reflecting a prominent value shared by younger workers. The benefits of flexible practices appear to go both ways, reducing stress among employees and supporting productivity in the workplace.

Sense of Purpose – If you want to keep your employees happy, don’t underestimate how much they want to work with purpose. More than comfort perks around the office, fulfilling work is what motivates members of the “new” HR pool.

Companies are naturally profit-oriented, focused on the bottom line, so it’s easy for employers to forget individual staff members are not always in it for the money. Employees want to contribute to a larger mission. Meaningful work fulfills not only their income needs, but also satisfies social responsibility and other common causes shared by a new wave of progressive, modern, workers.

Without a meaningful sense of purpose, employees may have difficulty connecting with your company. On the other hand, it is believed a well-developed sense of purpose has a positive effect on:

  • Workplace Morale
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Employee Motivation
  • Overall Productivity

The call for greater meaning is so pronounced among today’s workers, study results indicate thriving employees are three times more likely to work for a company with a highly-developed sense of purpose. Forbes offers these tips for bringing a sense of purpose to your work environment.

  • Create a well-articulated company vision
  • Recognize staff members for accomplishments
  • Acknowledge gratitude
  • Outline your “big picture” vision with your staff
  • Share customer praise
  • Frequently reinforce company values
  • Help each employee understand his or her key contributions to the grand scheme

Employers Committed to Staff Health and Well-being – Workplace wellness programs promote healthy habits among workers, but the benefits also spill over to employers. Showing your commitment to staff health and wellness acknowledges team members’ humanity, building goodwill and helping each staff member excel, in good health.

The Global Talent study found half of all workers want greater focus placed on employee health and wellness. And the call isn’t just for better health plans; employees want wellness aimed not only at physical health, but also initiatives accounting for their financial and psychology fitness.

Maintaining a workplace wellness program is an easy way to make a positive statement. A customized, varied program will draw the highest level of participation. Health screenings, dietary advice, and fitness challenges are a few common building blocks used by wellness organizers.

Facilitating a culture of wellness takes your commitment a step further, appealing to the progressive workforce. From standing desks and onsite workout facilities, to stress relief and meditation programs; top talent expects physical, emotional, and psychological support on the job.

Why They’re Not Happy

Spirits rise and fall in the workplace, so short spells of discontent are to be expected. However, it’s hard to do business when your staff is consistently down in the dumps. If you’re seeing signs of apathy or too many frowning faces, one of the following workplace causes may be responsible for unhappy staff.

Underpaid – You don’t want key staff members feeling underappreciated, so your pay structure should reflect their value. If low pay is making your star players unhappy, you may have to take steps to correct the imbalance, or risk losing top talent.

  • Not enough time off – If you’re not on board with work-life balance, unhappy staffers may jump ship.
  • Workplace isn’t flexible enough – Flexibility sends the message to employees that you’re all in it together. Accommodating their scheduling and lifestyle needs with adaptable workplace policies is like adding another fringe benefit.
  • Don’t feel supported – The best way to retain standout talent is to solve their problems. A steady paycheck is a good start, but you’ll make even better progress taking a genuine interest in employees’ needs.
  • Feel dead-ended – Striving slows without goals on the horizon. It’s important for employees to feel they’re part of a larger mission and that they’re not stuck in a rut.

Unhappy employees may be the only thing holding you back. With your business investment and success at stake, it pays to keep your finger on the pulse of workplace morale. If you’re missing the mark, keeping staff challenged and fulfilled, it may be time to rethink your approach. Fair play, flexibility, and a strong sense of employee wellness are only a few of the commitments you can make to recruit and retain happy talent.

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