As a manager, sometimes the simple task of keeping your employees happy seems like a relatively unimportant issue. However, research shows that keeping employees happy is the best way of retaining them, and retaining happy employees leads to a more productive and enjoyable workplace. By focusing on these five tips designed to retain and keep employees consistently happy, employers can minimize employee turnover and create a more positive place to work.

Tip #1: The Pavlovian Approach
Nearly everyone is familiar with Pavlov’s experiment, in which he trained his dogs to respond to a stimulus by rewarding them with treats. People respond in similar ways to certain stimuli, such as positive reinforcement of a job well done. If an employee successfully completes an assignment, you should reward the employee with adequate praise. Not only this, but before an employee even starts an assignment, it’s important that he or she feels necessary and important. If you set up your employees for success, chances are they will succeed.

Tip #2: Casual Fridays
Corporate personality has as much to do with an employee’s retention as anything else, according to a survey of reasons employees quit their jobs. Anything from birthday cakes to a boss’s corporate mentality can affect an employee’s happiness. You can remedy this unhappiness by offering occasional perks, like casual dress Fridays or celebrating monthly birthdays in the office. Showing that you care about more than the bottom line will create a sense of familiarity that will increase your employees’ sense of value.

Tip #3: Please, Sir, Can I Have Some More?
Employees like to feel appreciated, not only with perks but with work assignments. They want to impress and feel as though their contributions are worthwhile. An easy to implement practice is to assign more difficult tasks to those who want them or are capable of performing them. By doing so, you’ll show that you trust them with added responsibility, which in turn creates an environment of trust in your leadership. An added bonus is the fact that more work will get done. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Tip #4: Play to Strengths
Hand-in-hand with Tip #3 is the ability to spot your key players without playing favorites. Maybe Jill isn’t good with creating spreadsheets but loves to doodle during meetings. Find a design element in your projects and allow Jill to explore her creative side while channeling it into a work project. Both of you will be happier. As for the spreadsheet assignment, you probably have someone on staff who excels at them. A simple shuffling of assignments, when time and energy permits, can lead to a better overall office atmosphere, where each person plays to his or her strengths.

Tip #5: Be the Example

No one wants to work for someone who doesn’t understand their position. As a manager, you might not consider it important to lead by example, but if you want a happy staff, then that’s exactly what you need to do. Showing your employees that you’re committed to achieving the same goals creates trust and confidence in your abilities. The payoff is a happier, more goal-oriented staff.

The bottom line is this: keeping your employees happy depends on a sense of trust and common ideals. By encouraging these factors through the use of small rewards, relaxed atmosphere, increased accountability, identification of strengths and leading by example, you can create a positive workplace while retaining your effective employees.

Sally writes for The Cornwall Hotel Collection, owners of The Greenbank and Alverton. Both hotels have restaurants, if you are eating out in Truro; Falmouth, or looking for accomodation in Falmouth visit The Cornwall Hotel Collection.

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