Ask yourself: what do your employees want from you as their employer? A big paycheck? More bonuses or days off? Not surprisingly, employees will consider these great as conveniences; but a comfortable work environment, on the other hand, is worth far more, and has more staying power no matter your business’s financial situation. Here are some ideas to help you make your employees, and ultimately, you as the employer, happier and more effective.

1. Goals, Direction, & Purpose
To give your employees purpose, there must be a function behind what they do, so they know they have a role to play in the business’s success; while a cashier at a store isn’t responsible for making the food, for instance, they’re responsible for interfacing with the customer and handling the sales, while an accountant makes sure there’s enough money in payroll each month to keep everyone else paid on-time. Once an employee knows their function, set a goal, for either their specific role or for the whole business, and make sure they know how they can work toward that goal.

2. Autonomy & Flexibility
Outside of assembly lines, giving employees more freedom can actually make them more productive, allowing them to work in a way that works for them. Different people come to solutions in different ways, and some ways may work better. That’s not to say direction from their manager isn’t welcome; but breathing down their neck can make for a difficult work environment. Being able to adjust with busy schedules can make for a happier worker as well; from working different hours to working different days, this can accomodate those excellent workers who also have a busy family life, allowing them to balance their professional with their personal lives.

3. Attention
Even when giving them a fair amount of autonomy, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them feedback and guidance in their role. Check in with your employees every few weeks, even if it’s just for a minute or two; ask them how they’re doing, learn about what’s going on in their world, figure out their needs, and give them constructive critique if necessary. Don’t wait for their annual performance review; it’s difficult to get better at something you only hear about once a year.

4. Innovation & Open-Mindedness
As a manager, the great thing about having a team by your side is they’re a great creative resource; if there’s potential for something new and exciting to be brought to the table, or even a problem that must be solved, you should create an opening so they can provide their input, whether it’s a team meeting or a short brainstorming session. Treat each employee’s idea as equal, and treat them with sensitivity and honesty. Sensitivity is important, because once an idea is shot down by an authority figure, that person will be less likely to make suggestions in the future. Honesty is also important, because since you are the leader of the business, you may know what’s best for your business and what isn’t.

Each employee is an important element in your business, and if you’re attentive to their needs, both personal and professional, they *will* notice, and they’ll be more dedicated because of it.

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