4 Small Business Tips to Boost Employee Happiness

By Robert Half on February 28, 2017 at 4:45pm

Small is beautiful when it comes to employee happiness. A first-of-its-kind study, IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY. ®, shows that the happiest workers are at small companies with fewer than 10 people on the payroll.

On a happiness scale of 0-100, those workers scored 76, which means they may have some small business tips to share with larger companies, whose workers ranked their happiness at only 67.

Happy workers are more resilient, more loyal, harder working, more productive and healthier, according to the research. If you manage or own a small business, that’s good news.

People who work in the fields of accounting, financial and financial services, however, ranked last among those polled for on-the-job happiness, regardless of company size.

With that in mind, what are the best small business tips for brightening the workday for your bookkeepers, accounting managers and finance team members? Here are four:

1. Foster pride in your small business

Whether your organization is a startup or an established company, it provides products or services of some kind. What is its history, and what value does it bring to its customers and the community? Has it received awards or recognition?

You can instill pride by reminding workers of why your company is a great place to work. Think of your most positive attributes. Do you offer a positive and engaging corporate culture? Is the work you do worthwhile? Are your team members supportive of one another? All of that contributes to happiness at work.

2. Offer a sense of empowerment

The definition of empowerment is the authority given to someone to do something. In the workplace, it's a good idea to let go of the reins and empower your staff:

  • To make decisions, either on their own or with minimal direction
  • To develop critical skills that can help them advance their careers and make greater contributions to the company
  • To feel more invested in their roles and the jobs they do
  • To build confidence as they realize they can make the right decisions
  • To feel more comfortable suggesting new ideas
  • To take strategic risks and flex their creative muscles

3. Acknowledge your staff’s accomplishments

The smallest companies are the best at making their workers feel appreciated, according to the happiness research. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of employees at organizations with fewer than 10 employees say their work is recognized appropriately. Workers in larger companies are less likely to feel appreciated; only 54 percent of workers in organizations with 1,000 or more employees feel appreciated.

While the study shows the first year on the job is the happiest for workers, don’t underestimate the importance of recognizing both the newcomers and the veterans at your company. Make a point of soliciting their input and offering yours, showing them how they contribute to your company’s success, announcing their achievements publicly and personally thanking them often.

As Nic Marks, a leading expert on workplace happiness, notes in the report, “Believe it or not, a bonus is nice, but a kind word can go even further with employees.”

4. Set a good example

Workers take their cue from people around them, including the boss. Don’t underestimate your influence and the impact of how you conduct yourself in front of your team, especially with regard to these attributes:

  • Effective communication
  • Leadership and mentoring
  • Inspiration and engagement
  • Positivity

“When a manager embodies positivity,” Dr. Aymee Coget says in the report, “their influence touches their team, clients and even their clients’ customers.”

Does happy mean smiling all the time? Is there a one-size-fits-all approach to fostering happiness at your small company? No. But it’s safe to say that by being an advocate for workplace happiness, you’ll attract and retain great people. And that can be pivotal to your own success as well.

Learn more about building a happier workplace, and access free resources, including a quiz, infographic, testimonials and videos.

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