10 Big Mistakes That Kill Employee Morale

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A few months in at my last job the greatness started to wear off. I wish it could have been different. The main issue was my relationship with my boss.

He never complimented me or thanked me for my hard work. Every idea that I presented was ignored. My boss, while a good manager on his good days, was a bit of a grump on bad days. Don’t get me wrong, we got along most of the time. But our work relationship suffered. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to psych myself up. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wanted out.

Here’s the thing: everyone wants a team of employees who are dedicated to their jobs and are excited to come to work every day. The best way to achieve this, of course, is by maintaining a high level of morale in the workplace. You probably know the phrase “a happy wife makes a happy life?” Well, a happy employee makes employers more money.

The problem? This is easier said than done.

Achieving a happy office is largely dependent upon the professional health of the leadership. As even executives are human, it’s all too easy for leaders to get lost in the shuffle of everyday business needs rather than actively searching out how they can address the needs of the employees. Who can set the environment of an organization but the leader?

Leaders who want to be effective, respected and well liked should avoid some of the most common mistakes that directly impact the morale of their employees:

Mistake #1: Trying Too Hard to Be Everywhere

Have you ever seen the portraits where the eyes of the subject seem to follow the viewer wherever they go? It’s creepy, right? Don’t be like that.

As a leader, you’re held responsible for the quality of all projects. It can be hard to trust employees to get it done how you want, especially when they’re new to the team. It’s easy to want to check-in frequently to see how things are going and give them a hand to get the project moving in the right direction. Doing so can inhibit the productivity and creativity of your team, though.

Next time you feel yourself checking in too often, remember why you handed the project off: you’re too busy to do everything yourself and you have a team of capable, knowledgeable employees.

Give employees the space and authority they need to make educated decisions, and trust them to do it. They’ll feel much more confident, and you’ll feel much more relaxed not having to be everywhere at once.

Mistake #2: Being too Proud to Admit a Mistake

The best example of how to behave is by looking at the behavior patterns set by the leadership.  With that being said, however, leaders are prone to making mistakes just like everyone else. What sets a good leader apart from others is their willingness to honestly admit when they are wrong, which, according to Steve Blank at Entrepreneur, is “one more step toward a more effective and cohesive company.”

Even if it’s a small and unintentional mistake, fess up to it. Employees will appreciate the forthrightness and honesty. And, they’ll be more likely to own up to their own mistakes in the future.

Mistake #3: Being Too Busy to Listen to Your Employees

Your phone is ringing off the hook, your inbox is full, and you have a report due to a client in a few hours. It’s easy to neglect your own needs, let alone the needs of your employees.

Be sure to make time to listen to your employees. Foster an environment that welcomes and embraces ingenuity and innovation, and is considerate of your employees’ concerns. After all, giving employees the opportunity to come up with new and better ways of performing their tasks can save the company time, resources and money.

Mistake #4: Thinking You Know What Someone Wants Without Asking Them.

No one wants to be a puppet or the scapegoat of why a project didn’t get completed.

Encourage employees to speak up for themselves so that everyone can understand how the pieces of the group fit together. This ability to converse and be honest and open with one another means that problems will be addressed more quickly and respectfully, as that is the expectation being set. 

Mistake #5: Not Taking the Time to Say Thank You When You are Busy

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and needed. Forgetting to acknowledge the accomplishments of workers can make them feel just the opposite, and chances are, it won’t be long until they go work for someone else who will see – and acknowledge – their value.

Lindsey Lavine, from Fast Company, wrote an excellent article on the power of showing appreciation. Her article discusses the psychological impact gratitude has on getting people to help out, which is incredibly beneficial when trying to motivate employees to work hard.

Mistake #6: Not Emphasizing that Your Employees Ideas Are Important

Leaders who are doing their job well know that every skillset is important. Whether or not the job requires a lot of education or experience doesn’t matter.

Making employees feel as though their opinion matters and they aren’t being lorded over does, so try not to pull rank and make them feel stupid. Instead, appreciate any comments or feedback they offer.

Mistake #7: Not Giving Off the Proper Signals that You are Approachable

Think for a second about the waiting area of the doctor’s office. It’s full of potential issues and problems waiting to be solved by the doctor. The problem is that the doctor is incredibly busy with a long list of patients who arrived earlier. This means a long wait that seems like an eternity.

Often times, leaders also let their employees sit in the waiting room. Their employees’ questions go unanswered and no one gets a proper diagnosis or treatment.

Become more accessible with open communication lines and an open-door policy with specific visiting hours. Be sure to also show that you’re approachable by being transparent and starting the conversation.

Mistake #8: Losing Track of What You Promised To Do

Everyone struggles with this, but follow-through is incredibly important in establishing and maintaining respect with employees. If leadership decides that raises will happen in the spring but doesn’t actually deliver on that promise when the time comes, how is that going to make the employees feel? Like maybe they weren’t worth the money or their boss wasn’t totally honest?

Follow through. Be accountable. Say it and then deliver on it.

Mistake #9: Coasting at Work for Long Periods of Time

Time is always moving, trends are always changing and there are always new developments. Leaders should strive to keep up as best as possible.

There is nothing wrong with taking breaks throughout the day and vacations to recharge. In fact it’s a healthy aspect of work, but coasting for long periods of time is detrimental to you and your staff.

This means taking classes, attending trainings, pushing to be better at the jobs they’re performing. This continual education and professional development shows employees that even leaders need to change or improve habits. After all, that’s what this article is for, right?

Mistake #10: Remaining Rigid and Unforgiving

Let’s face it: Life happens. Traffic gets heavy, commutes are long and sometimes, people just oversleep. There are a million reasons why an employee may be late or why they may need to take a longer lunch or use up their sick time on a Monday morning.

Give employees the flexibility they need to stay sane in both their personal lives and at work. Be compassionate to their needs but expect the work to get done in a timely fashion.

Being a leader comes with lots of opportunities for making these common blunders. However, leaders who make their employees’ happiness a priority are more likely to retain staff and foster a work environment that is friendly and powerful. That sounds like a great leader to work for, doesn’t it?

Now it’s your turn to share a story. What is one small example that you remember from a great boss that you would like to share with us? (Just let us know in the comment section.)

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

What Can Your Boss Can Learn from a Goose?

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Have you ever looked up in the sky and noticed one of the most amazing skills any animal possesses?

You’ve probably seen it at least a few times. Geese flying in a V formation is beautiful thing to watch.

It’s teamwork at it’s best.

You remember fifth grade science or probably looked up in the sky and asking one of your parents why do geese fly in a V?

You probably know the answer, but let me explain something first.

Happiness is an ever allusive feeling. You can’t always be happy, but there are ways to make it happen more often. I’m not talking about just popping in a smooth piece of chocolate. Letting it just melt all over your tongue.

I got a little carried away there.

I’m talking about tools that are proven to bring longer lasting happiness to your company. You might be thinking. There is no way my company would create a happiness plan to make us happier.

I get it. I’ve been there.

This might be true, but if you just give up then are you just throwing in the white towel. Are you resigned to an unhappy workplace? If so then you can click away. You shouldn’t waste your time here any longer.

You should be planning your weekends.

Let’s talk about what tools you have to help you bring more happiness back to your work.

I’m not sure if you noticed a trend in the younger workforce. They are buying less things and spending more money on experiences?

Why is this?

Because experiences make us happier, not new things. Experiences build friendships. It’s these friendships that matter to you, not an extra $2,000 in your paycheck. Very rarely will you look back on your life and appreciate the couch that you bought.

So I’m going to ask you a tough question.

What is your company doing to create more positive experiences for you?

They probably know that if they create positive and even stressful experiences for you it creates memories that endear you and your co-workers to the company. Yes, that means employees stay longer and work harder because of the attachment they feel for the company. It’s up to you if you want to share that information with your boss.

Ok, so they probably should buy you and your team a trip to Bali for a team building getaway, it would be nice, but probably won’t happen. What they might do is thank you for wanting to make the team happier and more productive.

That’s where my new “Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload” comes in handy. Every company deals with stress, but it’s how you deal with it that makes the biggest difference for your employees. It’s in Beta right now, but the feedback so far has been wonderful.

I need a few more leaders who want to bring more fun and happiness to their teams. Are you interested? Click here to get the first 6 modules that can help your manager improve the culture at work and help you to become more engaged.

Why Does Your Work Experience Trump Income Level?

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Millennials don’t want new cars, furniture, or artwork. Why do you think this is?

Think about your best times at work.

Does it ever revolve around kicking back on your chair and looking at your bank statement?

Not usually, unless your Scrooge McDuck.

It revolves around the positive experience that were created when working on a difficult project and finding a unique solution or getting together with your your co-workers after work or other experiences that make you happy.

Think about the last job you had. Do you remember the experiences or how much money you made each day?

Experiences are the glue that connects us.

Are you creating positive experiences for your younger workforce?

Experiences that help them build relationships and feel a sense of pride in their work?

Millennials don’t want to spend their money on experiences, which makes sense. Experiences create more happiness because they teach us versus just being another thing in our lives.

The more I’ve led workshops and coached leaders in the workplace the more I know in my bones that we need to create more positive experiences at work. We need to feel like our work matters. That our time isn’t being wasted.

I decided to create the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. Leaders can bring a more positive experiences into the workplace and improve engagement if they have help.

Here is the one of the module in the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit:

Create Mentorship Program

Create cross pollination of ideas by creating a mentorship program. Gather everyone in a room. Put people’s names in hat. Make sure to pair people who were unable to come. Each pairing must be random to help people who don’t know each other that well to connect. Have the pairs of employees get together and ask themselves the first session’s questions.

At the end of each session have them set-up next week’s call for 30 minutes. They will set-up meetings each week until the end of the month. Each person will be given 15 minutes to talk at each session. They must bring a goal/project that they are working on and could use guidance to improve the results. You should encourage people to create a project instead of a goal. It becomes more of an adventure instead of something they have to reach and if they don’t, they feel like a failure.

The first session is a discovery session for them to build a rapport with each other. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th session is meant to help them support each other’s progress.

Virtual Version

Split people into groups 10 – 20, depending on the capacity of the video conferencing software that you use. Even numbers are important to pairing people up. Put everyone’s name in excel sheet and people pick number. They will set-up meetings each week over the phone until the end of the month. Each person will be given 15 minutes to talk at each session.

Questions to ask each other: (first session)

  • What are your top 3 favorite movies?
  • What piece of advice has been most important to growing your career?
  • What skill do you wish you had?
  • Who do you look up to as you started your career? How about now?
  • How can I help you accomplish your goal/project by the end of the month?

Questions to ask in mentorship sessions 2-4:

  • What is going well with your goal/project?
  • What can be improved?

Review Questions:

  • How did people respond to mentorship program? (Did they like the results? Did they participate?)
  • What could be improved about the program when you run it again?
  • Do you think it helped the team build stronger relationships?
  • What were the benefits that you noticed to running this program?

This is just a sample of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stressed out employees to help you improve your team’s engagement and communication. It gives you 6 modules to try out with your team or yourself. It has 3 main sections –  2 Team building ideas, 2 Team games, and 2 Individual Practices you can incorporate each month to help reduce overwhelm and build a stronger team.

5 Powerful Questions Every Boss Should Ask Herself

What can I do to bring more happiness to my employees?

There is one aspect of my work that makes me so amazingly happy I feel blessed to be doing what I’m doing. I think this is an overlooked part that we don’t see because we are so busy with our own lives and careers.

We get to work with people who want to be happier.

You can probably say the same thing for at least 90% of your co-workers. Some of them probably want to stay miserable, but for the most part most of them want to be happier. Helping them bring more happiness into their lives is vital to growing your career.

The thing that makes my job fun is that happiness and productivity go hand in hand. A happy employee is much more productive than an unhappy one.

“A happy workplace can increase sales by 37%” (Martin Seligman from Psychology Today)

“A happy workplace can decrease burnout by 125%.” (Harvard Business Review)

The hard part is harnessing this happiness. Employee happiness can feel so elusive

One of the most interesting questions I get from employers is how does work happiness improve the bottom line.

ROI is important, I get it.

You want to make sure that employees are happy, but you also want the best results for your business.

Quick Story

I had a friend who works for an amazing company. They follow many of the work happiness rules, they give free drinks and candy to employees, they have a slide, they bring in speakers, and they give their employees a flexible work schedule.

The problem is they fall in the same trap that most technology companies do. They want happy employees, but they don’t work on the fundamentals. The stuff that shows employees that their work matters a lot and empowers them to create better results. Employees want to see their hard work matters. They want to see progress.

If your company is just throwing great perks at you then your company culture will suffer. They must give tools to employees that want to improve the company.

You give me a piece of dark chocolate and I’ll be happy for a few minutes, but then I’ll go back to my normal mood. It’s a quick fix for the moment, not a long-term solution.

“Happiness is the joy that we feel on the way to living our potential.” Shawn Achor

Improving your happiness at work is not a quick fix. It’s long-term thinking that helps employees feel happy and stay happy. This is where progress is vital to every employee.

Does your company keep doing the same things over and over to try to bring more happiness to your workday?

Little Steps

What really needs to happen is working with employees’ emotions to help encourage them to build better relationships, do work that matters to them, and improve their results. There are no quick fixes when it comes to emotions. It all starts with listening to employees and their opinions of what needs to happen to improve the company.

This concept has been going on for ages. The blacksmith that encourages an apprentice to share his ideas with him is someone that learns from his apprentice to make his business better.

I call this the Flying V.

You’ve probably seen the V formation that geese use as they migrate to warmer or colder climates, depending on the season. They use this formation to help support each other through the journey. One goose takes the brunt of the wind (friction) and creates the starting point for the draft that all the other geese benefit from as they fly behind.

One goose doesn’t fly at the front for the whole journey. When he gets tired, he’ll drop back and let someone else take the lead. They trade off to support each other through the journey. It’s this technique that allows them to fly further together.

Most companies should utilize this same principle. Each employee knows his job well, but many times isn’t utilized to their full extent. They don’t require their employees to help support the company with their ideas. They follow the head geese (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.) ideas, implement their strategies, and feel underutilized.

The C level executives should be dropping back from time to time to rest and let other employees support the larger mission of the company.

The idea is a simple one, just ask employees for the best ways to improve the company. The hard part is implementing this within an organization. I talked with a client who was the head of HR that struggled to actually make time to listen to their employees’ suggestions.

They liked the idea, but were stuck in their old habits.

As a leader it’s your job to break these old habits.

If you are a leader at work you have to ask yourself some powerful questions:

  1. What can I do to be happier?
  2. What can I do to help employees build stronger relationships?
  3. Am I eliminating obstacles for my employees?
  4. Am I asking for feedback from my employees?
  5. What can I do to empower my employees to utilize their passions?

The first question is one that many managers forget to ask themselves. They think their happiness doesn’t matter to their employees, but it truly does. Happiness is contagious. If you are happy, your employees will be happier too.

The best part is that it’s mutually beneficial to everyone to bring more happiness into the workplace. Happy employees are more engaged, so you have their actions heading in the right direction. That’s the beauty of happiness. It’s easy to get them taking action on the right things because this is where the best results come from.

I have a step-by-step process that I’ve come up with through years of research, testing, and coaching. It’s called the “Happy Employees” program. It’s in BETA and I would love to talk with you if you are interested in bringing more happiness to your team. You can click here to learn more and we can set-up a quick chat to see if I think my program will help you and your employees.

You can click here to learn more. It explains what it takes to bring the Flying V techniques to your company so you can bring more happiness and engagement to your employees. If you are an employee and think your company can benefit from these ideas then send them on to your boss. It’s at least a good way to spark a conversation.

10 Habits of Brilliant Leaders

Zuckerberg quote
I recently shared a drink with a friend who runs a small company. He told me a secret that I’ve never heard him discuss before.

He talked with me about his employees’ moods and how they can fluctuate in such a broad way, which really affects the quality of their work.

“A few years ago I caught one of my employees sleeping at his desk. He wasn’t a bad employee, but he wasn’t great either. He was never late, but there were times he didn’t seem interested in his work at all. Then there were other times he was fantastic. It would fluctuate like this all the time. I didn’t know what to do.”

Shortly after finding his employee asleep he decided he had to make some changes. He told me he took my advice from a conversation over a couple beers last year. He began to explain his vision and why he made certain decisions. He opened up his thought process to all his employees every month. He explained the companies income and costs, what direction the company was trying to go in and why. This also opened up a dialog with his employees that he never knew was possible.

His employees responded better than he thought they would. He even got ideas from his employees of how the company could save money and how to improve the customer experience.

“It was like someone flipped a little switch on in our company. I wished I had done it sooner. Almost everyone was happier and much more engaged. It’s funny though. I never got through to the guy that sparked it all. I eventually had to let him go. Hope he’s at a job he enjoys. I still think about him and feel grateful for the idea he sparked.”

People often stop looking at the larger picture because they get comfortable. This comfortable feeling reduces their desire to go above and beyond. They coast along, slowly disengaging and disliking their work.

A study at the University of Alberta showed that people need a sense of purpose in order to feel engaged with their work. A ‘Spirit at Work’ intervention program for a group of long-term health-care workers boosted morale and job retention. This program urged employees to rethink their job, which reduced absenteeism by 60% and turnover by 75%.

“We discovered that people who are able to find meaning and purpose in their work, and can see how they make a difference through that work, are healthier, happier and more productive employees,” said Val Kinjerski, a University of Alberta PhD graduate who co-authored the study in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

By helping your people understand why they do what they do – you can increase happiness and productivity.

I’m going to give you a few ideas that should help your employees feel more engaged with their work.

Are you interested in bringing more fun and happiness to your team? I’m creating a beta program to help you improve employee engagement. I would like to help a small group of leaders grow a happier culture and improve communication at work. If you are a team leader, manager, HR, or CEO then reach out to me. The program will be extremely affordable (big discount) in exchange for your help in making the program better. If you are interested please fill out this short form and I’ll get back to you right away.

1. Empower employees to improve the company

When a leader listens and empowers his employees to fix the small things, there are more people responsible for creating a great customer experience. Each small improvement quickly adds up, improving innovation and helping keep customers happy.

“We try to have as many channels for expression as we can, recognizing that different people, and different ideas, will percolate up in different ways,” Laszlo Bock, VP of Google

When employees believe that their voices matter, they are more likely to feel appreciated by the company. This feeling then encourages each employee to do better work.

Your organization employs smart people, otherwise they probably wouldn’t hold the positions that they do. They just need a chance to unleash that creativity and wow their co-workers and customers.

2. Share positive stories

Your organization has many stories of how employees solved problems, helped others in need, and other ways in which they went above and beyond to make someone happy. However, a lot of companies like to play the modesty card. They hesitate to flaunt their achievements.

Great leaders understand the power of positive stories when they show the value that they bring to the customer.

A client recently told me about how I helped her feel happier. She explained that medication that she took to keep her emotionally balanced didn’t help, but I did. She thanked me profusely. (I put her quote on my Happy Employees page.) I sent the email to my editor. I think she got a better understanding of who I’m trying to help and why I work so hard to create great content. Since she edits many of my articles, I need her to feel engaged with the work, so we keep putting out the best content to help the readers of this blog.

You need to flaunt your greatness!

You have to share similar stories with each other. Talk about how a customer gushed over your attention to detail. It shows the rest of your co-workers why you do what you do. Most of you aren’t working just for the paycheck. You are also working because you make a difference in people’s lives.

The more stories an organization can compile the more powerful it becomes. If your organization is huge, then break it down into departments. Even departments such as marketing and accounting need to compile stories. Many of these stories may be more internal, but it’s still important to document what is happening so you can share with your people why you do what you do.

3. Focus on great culture

Great results are the bottom line of every company. The only way to get great results is to have support at every level. If one domino falls short the customer experience weakens. You can’t have great marketing and bad customer service. That’s why empowering employees to create their own happiness systems, we’ll discuss more in #5, is vital to improving every aspect of your company culture.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek

When a leader makes the company’s culture a top priority it ripples throughout the whole organization. They want create as many avenues for employee happiness that their resources will allow. It’s this habit that helps an employee feel engaged with their work and deliver great results.

4. Explain the vision again and again

A great leader has vision that guides everyone in the organization. They are able to plan for next year like it’s next month. They know how they want to get there and help explain what he wants done to make it happen.

It’s this vision that helps put into focus every action an employee makes within the company. Without explaining this vision many employees become lost, unable to see what is truly important.

“If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” – Larry Page, CEO of Google

Every company helps someone. It’s up to the leaders in your company to bring clarity to who you serve and how you will make it happen. The more ways you can explain your visions the clearer it becomes.

5. Allow employees to design their work systems

Your employees know their strengths. They know whether they enjoy certain projects and which ones drive them crazy. Utilizing this information is vital to getting great results out of your employees.

Allow your employees the freedom to design how they would get the task done. They will own the project and work harder to make sure it succeeds.

6. Listen to Feedback

In order to stay engaged in our work, we have to recognize our mistakes and understand how to fix them. By listening to employee, customer, and vendor feedback, an organization is taking the time to understand their mistakes and correct them.

I have known many people who like to solve problems. They get an energy boost from making a solution happen. I worked at K-Mart in my teenage years and I’ll never forget a look on one customer’s face because of what one of my co-workers was able to do for her.

A woman came into the store asking for a patio umbrella that wasn’t in stock. The salesperson called 4 different stores before she found the lady’s umbrella. He asked the store to transfer it and he would call the lady as soon as it came in.

I remember when the lady came into the store to pick up the umbrella. She was gushing because it was the only one that fit her patio furniture.

You could see the manager of the employee beaming with pride.

I’ve seen and been on the receiving end of an employee just not caring. They can hear and/or see that I’m upset and they choose not to help.

You need to give your people a chance to create solutions so they can feel like they are a superhero.

7. Encourage employees to fix mistakes

Yaro Starak wrote a blog post about his experience at Starbucks. It made great advertising for Starbucks. Starbucks empowers their employees to make good decisions, which leads to the best type of advertising in the world: word of mouth.

Yaro ordered a tea and an oat brownie. He waited for it to arrive on the counter. After a few minutes he told the barista that he was still waiting for his tea. The Starbucks employee had forgotten about his order. He quickly made the tea, apologized and handed him a piece of cardboard that said…

We apologize if your Starbucks experience was anything but wonderful. We want to know how we can make things better and always invite you to share your thoughts with us. The next time we see you, please enjoy a beverage, on us. We hope your next visit is better.

Yaro might bring a friend in with him the next time he goes to Starbucks. Now that extra expenditure almost balanced itself out.

Yaro explained how he felt…

I waited about an extra minute longer for my tea than I should have. That is definitely not long enough for me to get angry and I was served very quickly once I notified them that my tea was missing.

Yet, despite this, the Starbucks policy is to offer a complimentary beverage even if their system is slightly out of whack. I walked away impressed that I scored a free beverage voucher, but not really because of the beverage itself, I was impressed with the customer service policy I just witnessed (hence I’m writing a blog post about it!).

Starbucks did not diminish in my eyes as a result of this incident. In fact they impressed me, so much so that I’m now writing a blog post that will be read by thousands of people proclaiming good things about Starbucks service (that’s some good word of mouth). Of course not every Starbucks customer has a blog they can rave to when something happens, but every person has friends and people they talk to, and this one policy of Starbucks will encourage word of mouth through normal social interaction too.

It all started because Starbucks empowers their employees to make the customer feel good. That’s the benefit to happiness at work. The employee corrects a mistake, and the customer is happy after receiving a free voucher for something of such little inconvenience. Everyone feels good. The drinks that Starbucks make don’t cost them that much, so in reality they are probably losing less than a dollar on the whole transaction.

Gaining a loyal customer.

8. Recharge internal battery every single day

When you run a company you can’t go 9 hours straight without stopping. You probably can’t even go 4 hours without recharging. That’s why smart leaders take the time to recharge their mind and body.

Listening to your body instead of powering through, it’s vital to making quality decisions.

“Manage your energy, not your time.” – Tony Schwartz

Next time you feel sluggish try going for a walk or taking 10 deep breaths. The idea is to do something that gets you away from thinking about work and allows you to let go of your tension loop. You’ll feel refreshed, happier, and make better decisions.

9. Celebrate hard work and great results

The number one reason people leave their job is because they don’t feel appreciated. If you are ho hum about showing your appreciation then your people may stop trying.

You can do something simple like walk up to them and just thank them for their hard work.

People want to know that what they do matters. That means celebrating all the good things.

This should be done in large and small groups. The larger gatherings can occur about 1-4 times a year, while the smaller groups (celebrations within a department) should be done more often.

Making your celebration a regular routine is the key, because you want to make a habit out of celebrating your successes. Try celebrating once a quarter to start. If you overload people and celebrate too often, they will get bored and also be unable to find reasons to rejoice in their hard work.

To avoid allowing this practice to fall away, it’s important to make the celebration fun. That might mean bringing food, let people play a game, and finding other ideas that get people excited about attending your party.

10. Develop company core values 

Making the values visible for the employees to read and hear every day helps each employee connect to a larger vision. We all need to believe that our work means more than just completing our tasks.

“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”
― Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

I suggest to my clients that they encourage their teams to come up with core values as well. What truly matters to the company is important, but team values are just as important. They will help guide daily decisions.

Help your people connect to a larger purpose. Ask them what they believe are the core values of the organization. You may be surprised by the responses.

Good Habits Build a Better Company

After implementing just one of these habits, assess how these changes affect your organization. You will probably notice that people are more engaged and willing to try a little harder.

“I think as a company, if you can get those two things right — having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff — then you can do pretty well.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

I know one of these ideas will help make a big impact in your company. The companies that succeed are the ones that make these ideas a regular habit. It needs to become part of the culture, so when something difficult happens there are good habits to fall back on. And when something great happens everyone can celebrate together.

* Do you want your employees be happier and encourage them to become more engaged? Then check out our Happy Employees Beta program and see how the Work Happy Now 10 step process can help your company retain it’s great people, improve their focus, and deliver a great customer experience.

How to Create a Better Job for Yourself

Free Training Photo

This might mean that you must learn to get creative…or think outside the box…but you can use your current job to provide yourself with free training and new skills to beef up your resume in order to get a pay raise or better career position, or simply to enhance your present workplace and your relationships with your coworkers.

Here are some of the ideas I have used to successfully create a better job for myself:

I became a notary public in just a few hours online, and I did it with my boss’s permission — on company time!  He even let me pay for it on the company credit card because it would be so useful to him to have a notary on the premises.

Pitch Your Boss

The point here is to try to think of an idea you can pitch to your boss that will help him or her or the company, and therefore make you a more valuable employee.   You will have more job security and confidence, management will love you, and you can grow your resume for the future.

My most recent pitch to my boss was not for myself.  I learned that a coworker who is also a friend has a small hobby/side business that requires a lot of social media, so she is very experienced in that field.  We pay our advertising company an astronomical amount of money to have them manage our social media in addition to running our website and designing our ads.  Their contract is up next month.

I talked to my boss and presented my idea to save the company tons of money by having one of our own employees take over the social media portion of the advertising contract for next year.  We could even give my coworker a nice pay raise, but it would be SO much less than we currently spend.   The company would come out MUCH better off financially, and so would my friend.

Believe it or not, being kind and offering to help others can also be an opportunity for you to create a better job for yourself at work.  Because I volunteered to do extra work filling in for someone on maternity leave so that her boss could cope, when she decided not to come back to work after having her baby, the position was given to me…with a pay raise!

Look for Training Opportunities

Another potential way to improve your career options is to sign up for any relevant training programs offered by your employer  You can also find out if they would pay for certifications or classes.  By taking advantage of any learning opportunities available, you can become a more valuable asset to your company while also growing and improving yourself and your capacity to earn more money in the future.

For example, I learned of a fabulous program in my state offered by Workplace Development.  I discovered it through an email sent by our local Chamber of Commerce.  It is a grant offered by the state to pay for employees’ continuing education or to improve or build job skills.

I presented it to my boss and told him I would do all the work involved if he would let me apply for the grant.  (Full disclosure: If I’d realized how much work would be involved in the grant process, I’m not sure I would have been so eager to volunteer for this project!)

With the grant, I am getting approval for over a dozen of my coworkers and myself to take classes on company time for two hours, twice a week.  With our new knowledge and skills, we will then be able to get pay raises, but the company will benefit financially as we apply the new knowledge and skills.

For example, our maintenance staff will learn more intensive plumbing, air conditioning and electrical skills.  They will be able to do more of the big jobs that usually require hiring outside contractors.  Therefore, even with giving the maintenance staff pay raises, the company will come out ahead by saving money spent on contracted services.  Win-win!

For myself, I am taking accounting and Quickbooks classes so I can cover for our bookkeeper when she goes on vacation, rather than having to wait for her return every time she takes a few days off.  Perhaps one day, I’ll even want to change my career from administrative assistant to accounting. In the meantime, I have a pretty good thing going with the present job I created for myself.

Frame Your Idea in Positive Way

The first time I asked my boss if he had a few minutes to talk to me, I felt him cringe as he assumed I was going to ask for a raise.  (There was no money in the budget for that.)  I learned to ask instead, “Do you have a few minutes so I can run an idea by you?”  Now when I approach with a big grin asking if he has time to talk about a new idea, my boss is eager to hear what I have to say.

Have you ever pitched a new or creative idea to your boss that changed your job or experience?  Please share your ideas or comments!

Contributed by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

Top Reasons to Provide a Catered Lunch for Your Employees

IMG_3047I know what you’re thinking! With the economy as bad as it is you’re probably asking yourself, “It’s an employer’s market, so why would I spend the extra money to give my employees a free lunch when I can pocket it instead?” and you know, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that. But you may also be costing yourself money in ways unseen.

Give a Boost to Employee Morale

When employee’s love their job and morale is high, employees feel the most loyal to the company they work for. This means the grass doesn’t look quite as green on the other side of the fence, and they stop looking for a job with better benefits or higher pay. This results in a lower turnover of your core workforce. When employees are good at what they do, they make you money, when they’re not, they cost you. If providing lunch everyday can boost employee morale and build company loyalty it may end up saving you money in the long run.
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Top 15 Business Building Quotes and Research

Companies that put an emphasis on employee happiness are rewarded. Every company has a culture that either supports or detracts from their productivity and bottom line. Figuring out how to create a more supportive culture should be at the top of every company’s “to do” list.

Here are some of the best quotes and research that I have on the importance of work happiness.
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Hire Happy People and Teach Them the Rest

happy-employeesWhen I first started this blog in 2008, I was  prone to depression. I literally felt like I had those huge ankle weights holding me down. Those days don’t happen very much any more. Over the years of studying work happiness, I’ve learned about life happiness, too.

I still feel sad like everyone else. No one can avoid sadness, but my sadness doesn’t last as long as it used to.

Core Happiness

The more work I’ve put into my core happiness, the more resilient I feel. When I fail, I don’t take it as hard as I used to. I shake it off and try something else. It’s this trait that all happy people seem to possess. They never let things bring them so far down that they just give up.

Just so we are clear, I’m not talking about hiring people who aren’t phased by failure. I’m talking about hiring the resilient people who can get knocked down and find a way to see a positive and build on it.
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How to Use Performance Reviews to Make Employees Happier at Work

dwight-reviewEditor’s Note: This is a guest post from Sean Conrad of the Halogen blog

A lot of employees and managers experience performance appraisals as a negative process. This is true even for employees who are generally good performers. At the core, the reason why we experience performance appraisals negatively is because we are being judged and rated by another.

But you could change the whole experience and improve the business value of performance appraisals simply by changing their focus. What if the goal of your performance appraisal process was to find way to encourage and inspire people to be happy at work and to be their best, rather than to critique, rate and rank them?

There are several things an individual manager or better yet an entire organization can do to make performance appraisals a positive experience that encourages and inspires:
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