Managing Employees

7 Tips to Increase Employee Happiness and Productivity

These are a few moves management can make to keep your employees smiling and working hard.
7 Tips to Increase Employee Happiness and Productivity
Image credit: Tom Merton | Getty Images
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The benefits of a happy staff are obvious and self-evident. Aside from the numerous studies that link employee happiness to greater productivity in the workplace -- a fact that any disgruntled employee could have told you for free -- an unhappy workforce simply makes for a miserable environment.

While misery may love company, companies do not reciprocate the feeling. A despondent staff can be exhausting to interact with and low energy in their output.

The good news is that keeping your employees happy is not an impossible feat. Aside from the common sense things, like growth opportunities, good benefits, clear communication and recognizing employee success, their are a few other moves you can make to keep your employees smiling and working hard. 

Existential appeasement

Clear objectives and vision for business -- While in a perfect world everyone would work to his or her fullest capabilities everyday, life does not work this way. Often, the eternal recurrence of day-in day-out repetition traps employees in a Kafkaesque nightmare of meaningless drudgery.

Psychologists will tell you that well-defined goals engender a more disciplined work ethic. Defined goals provide employees with a sense of purpose and allow them to understand how their work contributes to the final product or service.

Related: What You Can Learn From Hollywood on Hiring and Managing Employees

Work without context feels aimless and ultimately alienates the individual from the team and vision they should feel proud to be part of.

Transparency -- Just as you should be upfront about the goals and vision of the company, you should also be transparent about the state of the company. According to an employee survey from TinyPulse, transparency is the “No. 1 contributor to employee happiness…”

Stressing over rumors of layoffs or fears of economic downturn only serve to disrupt an employee’s focus. Even if the only news you have to share is bad news, be honest. The result will be much better than the anxiety and passive aggression likely to arise from an uninformed and frightened staff.

Help employees define their professional narrative -- Given the high mobility of younger employees, jumping from company to company, mentorship might seem like a relic of the distant past, but this is not true. If you work to build your employees, they will work harder for you. Loyalty breeds loyalty.

Help your employees see how the work they do benefits them. Whether this means asking them about their five-year plan over lunch or discussing with them possible next steps after they out-grow their current role, these discussions will alleviate any doubt about the meaning of their work in their own lives and the purpose they should feel doing it.


Allow employees to make their own schedule -- The monotony of the 9 to 5 workday is unnecessary and old fashioned. Allowing your employees to make their own hours, and judging them not by time served but by productivity, will give your employees a rewarding sense of freedom.

Related: 7 Ways to Manage Your Most Motivated and Talented Employees

Many progressive companies, such as Netflix, have adopted make your own schedule policies and research shows that allowing employees to do so increases productivity.

Work from home option -- With most office jobs being computer-based nowadays, offering a work from home option to your employees is a great way to boost happiness. The trick here is to make sure that all employees have the same benefit, as those who do not receive the option to work from home are sure to become disgruntled.

Also, keeping it an option is best, as some people (likely more extroverted people) will not like the isolation of working from home, while others (likely more introverted people) will thrive outside the office.

It’s the little things.

Cut back on meetings -- While meetings are a vital part of any organization -- facilitating communication and a free exchange of ideas -- too many meetings, or meetings without structure, can bog down the workday and waste time.

Related: 5 Strategies for Managing Unmanageable Employees

Take a good look at which meetings are essential and which ones are not. Perhaps make certain meetings optional. Maybe a simple memo or email update would suffice in certain cases.

Most important, remember that a meeting’s productivity is a function of its inclusivity. Make sure that the loudest voice isn’t the only voice and that everyone gets a chance to contribute to the discussion. Meetings are by their very nature geared towards more extroverted personalities. Do what you can to pull in the introverted types and push them to share their ideas. Also, monitor the dialogue to make sure no one person or type dominates the conversation.

Instill a casual dress code -- Lastly, a simple and inexpensive way to improve employee morale is to cut the jacket and tie requirement and instill a casual dress code. By allowing employees to dress casually they gain the ability to express themselves creatively, be comfortable, save money on dry cleaning bills and lose the stress from having to dress to impress.