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Little Things that Make a Big Difference in Employee Satisfaction

Basketball coach John Wooden was once quoted as saying “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” When it comes to ensuring that your employees are happy to come to work and putting in their best effort, this sentiment definitely applies. Happy employees are up to 20 percent more productive than unhappy workers.

As an independent retailer who may be dealing with increasingly small margins and plenty of competition, it is probably reassuring to know that you can boost employee satisfaction through a number of small tokens of appreciation rather than a large increase in pay. While your workers would certainly love a raise when you can afford it, there are definitely a number of other effective and budget-friendly ways to improve employee satisfaction, which in turn can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

As for specific suggestions on how to make sure “little things make big things happen,” please consider the following ideas:

Implement Tools that Make it Easier for Everyone to Do Their Jobs

If you have ever tried to jot down notes with a pen that has run out of ink or make copies with a machine that is low on toner, you know how frustrating it is to be unable to work due to lackluster supplies. In order to keep your team happy at work, make sure that they have the tools that are necessary to succeed. For instance, if some of your employees meet with clients at remote locations, equip them with company smartphones or tablets that they can use to access inventory, bring up information about your company on the internet, sign contracts and/or accept payments. For team members who do most of their client meetings in-house via phone, look into an easy-to-use web conferencing solution to support quick and effective meetings. Empowering your team by providing them with everything they need to get their jobs done will increase their performance and happiness as well as boost employee retention.

Help Your Employees Feel Like They’re Part of a Big Family

As Zenefits notes, most people like to feel like they are part of a team, family or club. Your employees probably feel the same way about their fellow workers. If your company is made up of a number of smaller groups or solo employees working separately from everyone else, create some type of committee and invite members from the various teams to participate. If your workers are isolated in cubicles, consider changing the physical layout of the office to one that is more open. Provide a large table in the break room and/or outside where workers who are on break can gather, and encourage everyone to get to know each other and enjoy positive social interaction. Businesses have more success when they treat employees as part of the company’s future — this includes promoting positive coworker relationships.

Praise and Celebrate Their Accomplishments

Remember when you were in school and you worked really hard to learn all of your spelling words? You probably still recall how great it felt when your teacher returned your A+ test to you with a genuine “Great job!” and an enthusiastic high five. Increasing employee satisfaction can also be as simple as letting your workers know that they have done a terrific job on a project, and that you really appreciate their hard work. While more generic words of praise in company emails like “Everyone came together on the latest project and the client loves it — thank you!” are a good place to start, to really boost your workers’ happiness, get a bit more personal. Visit each employee at his or her desk and tell each one that they truly matter to the success of your company, and/or send them an email, a handwritten note or praise them at the next meeting. People want to know that they matter and that their work is meaningful and appreciated, so tell them — it costs you absolutely nothing to praise them and you will be rewarded in a priceless way with happy workers who want to stay with you.

Allow Your Team to Work Remotely and on a Flexible Schedule

If your employees can be as productive from a home office than sitting in your brick and mortar building, by all means allow your team to work remotely — at least part of the time. Offering flexible schedules is another great way to boost employee happiness. As long as everyone’s work is being completed and is high-quality, does it really matter if they work from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday or other times or days? A busy parent who has to juggle family responsibilities will be thrilled to learn that he can come in at 7 a.m. and leave by 3 p.m. to pick up the kids from school, and someone who lives a great distance from the office will be delighted by the idea of skipping the long commute to work from home.

Let the Workplace Go to the Dogs … Literally, not Figuratively

Another inexpensive way to boost employee happiness is by allowing them to bring their dogs to work. Of course, for this to work well you do have to set up certain ground rules, like the dogs have to be well-behaved and get along with other pups. If someone suffers from dog allergies you might also want to skip this tip. But overall, if you have the room for dogs to lounge at their owners’ feet and there is a nice spot outside for the pooches to be walked and take care of business during the day, encouraging the fur babies to be part of the workplace can help create a happier environment as well as increased interaction between co-workers who stop by a desk to visit with the dog, and the worker. To help this suggestion go as smoothly as possible, invest in some “duty bags” so it’s easy for people to clean up after their pets outside, add some large water bowls to the break room and spring for a few boxes of Milkbones to keep on hand.

Treat Them Whenever You Can

About once a month or so, try to treat your workers to some type of goodie. For example, a few boxes of inexpensive yet tasty pizza can go a long way in boosting employee morale. Announce ahead of time that on Friday you will be bringing in lunch, and ask everyone what their fave pizza toppings are. If you can, encourage everyone to take their break at the same time and enjoy an hour or so of socialization over pizza and soda. Be sure to invite the remote workers and encourage them to join you. You can also do more impromptu treats, such springing for Starbucks — take everyone’s order and then bring in refreshing beverages. For the remote workers who may miss out on their caffeine fix, buy them a small gift card to Starbucks and pop it in the mail. You can also celebrate the monthly birthdays by hosting a small party with cake once a month and recognizing everyone who was born in February, etc. And, if you have the means to do so, consider hosting an employee night at a local ball game, a bowling alley or a driving range; invite everyone to attend and spring for their tickets and rental equipment.

Offer Opportunities for Professional Development

You don’t want your employees to feel bored or stagnant while at work. While they don’t want to be overwhelmed with too many tasks or responsibilities, your team still wants to be challenged to use their noggins to be creative. Ask employees who have mastered their current roles to train for some new tasks that will allow them to grow both personally and professionally. Whenever you can, promote them to a higher position; ideally this new role will include a raise in pay, but if not, throw in some type of perk like the use of a company car, the chance to work from home half of the week or some other bonus. In order to feel more satisfied at work, employees need to feel like they have an important role to play on the job as well as some autonomy at work.

These “Little Things” Will Help “Big Things” to Happen

As a hard working independent retailer, it’s reassuring to know that employee satisfaction is not always tied to spending a lot of money. By doing things like providing basic and necessary supplies, encouraging your employees to get to know each other, praising them personally and sincerely for jobs well done and — if you are able to — allowing people to bring in their pets and treating everyone to lunch or a night out of fun now and then, you will be rewarded with employees who truly want to be on your team and will do the best jobs possible.

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