Managing Employees

5 Easy Ways to Keep Top Performers Happy

Reader Resource

Position yourself for growth in 2017—join us live at the Entrepreneur 360 Conference in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov. 16. Secure Your Seat »

It turns out, Google was right: Employee happiness results in greater productivity.  

"At Google, we know that health, family and well being are an important aspect of Googlers’ lives," Lara Harding, Google's people programs manager, is quoted as saying in research released by professors at England's University of Warwick, who found that happiness made people about 12 percent more productive. "We have also noticed that employees who are happy ... demonstrate increased motivation," Harding added.

The University of Warwick professors studied more than 700 participants for their research published in February.

Yet for people who are already top performers, a lack of workplace happiness can have devastating effects. When a top performer leaves, not only should companies take into account the cost of hiring a replacement but also the potential loss of value each day the vacancy remains unfilled. Plus a replacement employee might not be such a hot performer during the onboarding period, according to John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University.

The reality is, just because an employee is amazing at performing a job doesn’t mean he or she is happy at work. So here are five ways to keep high performers happy and engaged in their work:

Related: Why Making Your Employees Happy Will Help Your Bottom Line

1. Promote a collaborative work environment.

Many employees want to work in a collaborative environment. Eight-four percent of the 2,016 American adults surveyed  for a Spherion Staffing report released last summer said they preferred a collaborative work environment over a competitive one.

Create a collaborative work environment by shaping the company’s culture. Encourage employees to work together in teams and pair them with managers who value collaboration. Promote transparent communication and welcome feedback from employees.

Related: 6 Alternatives to Being a Bad Boss

2. Offer free lunches.

Employees who eat meals provided by their company are more likely to collaborate more at work, stay healthy and focus more on projects, according to research.

Fifty-four percent of 1,100 professionals surveyed by Seamless said they would spend more time at work if they didn’t have to waste their time packing a lunch. Sixty percent of the respondents to the study released last year said having food available in the office would make them feel more appreciated by their employer.

Employers might discover that lunch will not only make employees happy but also reduce the cost of low productivity. Eat Club’s ROI Lunch Calculator helps employers determine exactly how much money they’ll save by providing staffers with food at work.

Related: 6 Things Effective Leaders Should Do to Inspire Their Teams

3. Develop mindful managers.

Research at the Singapore Management University found the mindful attitudes of managers led to less emotional exhaustion in employees at work. A study of 96 Singaporean supervisors and their employees revealed that increased mindfulness by leaders led to better work-life balance and overall performance on the part of employees.

Transform managers into mindful leaders. Encourage them to take mindfulness classes in things such as meditation or yoga. These classes can teach managers to become more aware of their work environment and employees' needs.

4. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition.

Employers can no longer rely only on supervisors to provide recognition of employees. Out of more than 200,000 employees surveyed for TINYhr’s engagement and organizational culture report released in October, 44 percent said they would give recognition to colleagues if they had the tools to do so.

In the modern workplace, employees need opportunities to recognize one another for their hard work. By boosting peer-to-peer recognition through online platforms and software tools, employees can become more engaged, motivated and productive at work.

Related: 3 Online Tools for Supercharging a Company's Culture

5. Focus on positive relationships.

Positive relationships are the foundation of a productive workplace. An October survey of 200,000 people across the world by Boston Consulting Group found relationships with co-workers or superiors ranked among the top 10 ways to make employees happy.

Encourage supervisors to mentor employees and display integrity. Be present in conversations and fully listen to employees. Managers and employees should make emotional connections and bond over common interests to improve their relationships.

What are some ways that you keep your top performers happy and engaged?

Related: 5 Ways Work and Love Can Be the Same Thing