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8 Tips for creating a happy and flourishing small business workplace

Every small business owner knows that their most valuable asset is their employees, and managing them effectively is paramount to the success of the business. What are you currently doing to ensure that each of your workers is playing their A-game and performing to the best of their ability?

According to Gallup’s 2013 ‘State of the Global Workplace’ report, only 24% of Australian employees are highly engaged and happy with their work. The remaining 76% sleepwalk through their workday with little concern for the customer, productivity or safety, translating into a higher rate of on-the-job accidents, production faults, sick days, and staff turnover. Outcomes such as these are sounding the death knell for many small businesses.

The exciting news, however, is that the same report also found that employees who are highly engaged and happy are more productive, have fewer safety incidents, score better in customer ratings, are less sick, and stay at their company much longer than disengaged unhappy employees. Quite simply, happier workers make excellent business sense. Here are eight essential tips for creating a small business workplace that is happier, healthier, and wildly productive.

1. Hire the right people

At the top of your list is hiring people whose personal values reflect those of your business – hire for attitude and train for skill. Then allow employees to work on projects that match their strengths. When people are able to use their strengths on a daily basis they are six times more likely to be engaged in their job and feel more motivated, confident, energised, and are more loyal to their employer.

2. Ensure their work is meaningful

Let employees know how their work will have a meaningful, positive impact on others. This is the number one concern for Millennials. Also, when employees feel they can impact the direction of the company, they’re more likely to throw themselves fully behind the cause so encourage them to take greater responsibility and to solve problems their own way using whatever resources they need.

3. Encourage a work-life balance

The latest Gallup polls reveal that 67% of workers will stay at a company because of its work-life balance practices. Offer employees more flexible working hours such as working from home or working part-time and minimise technology use after work. Also, ensure lunch breaks are taken – currently 20% of workers don’t have lunch and of those that do 70% work while eating.

4. Cultivate a progress-focused culture

One of the most powerful causes of positive employee morale and happiness at work is when employees feel like they’re moving forward and making progress. Develop a culture that celebrates mistakes, as well as successes, as failures are the stepping stones to risk-taking and innovation. To further promote a learning culture provide employees with ongoing opportunities for professional development.

5. Recognise accomplishments

To fully engage and motivate employees their accomplishments need to be recognised in a regular and consistent manner. This can be as simple as starting each meeting with a roll call of accomplishments, a thank you from the employer or a fellow employee, or giving a tangible reward such as an extra day off or a gift card.

6. Promote single-tasking

Studies have shown that multitasking actually reduces our productivity by as much as 20-40% and makes us more susceptible to making errors, lengthens task time, and increases stress. Instead, encourage workers to single-task throughout the day whether booting up a computer, eating lunch, or when listening to others.

7. Foster a community culture

Australian Institute of Management surveys show that having a good relationship with co-workers is one of the main factors behind staff retention. Also, happier workers help their colleagues 33% more than those who aren’t happy. So foster a community culture where staff are always on the lookout for opportunities to show gratitude and to help one another.

8. Develop a healthy environment

Businesses that adopt wellness-oriented practices report greater productivity, staff morale, and job satisfaction. Make sure the workplace lighting and temperature is comfortable, promote healthy eating practices, and encourage lunchtime exercise. Equip offices with ergonomically-sound chairs and encourage staff to get up from their desks for a few minutes each hour.

About the author:

This article was written by Dr. Bruce Wells, a happiness and wellness consultant. He works with companies, community groups, and individuals committed to improving performance, wellbeing, and happiness. He is the author of Happiness Anywhere Anytime. For more information visit Bruce at www.drbruce.com.au

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