Whether it’s reducing the hours in a work week or bringing puppies into the office, companies all over the world are prioritizing employees’ happiness because it’s proven to increase productivity.
For some workers, their moods are directly related to their managers’ attitudes. Business Insider spoke with Steve Bushnell, certified leadership coach and founder of Charles River Careers. He said there are five simple steps every boss should take to ensure their employees’ happiness in the workplace.
Bushnell said by far the most important quality a great boss can have is being a great listener. He even emphasized the importance of “listening with intent.”
“In leadership counseling, people are very excited about their ideas and want to move very quickly,” Bushnell said. “What they don’t often do is listen to the wisdom of their reports.”
To listen with intent, he says, bosses must deliberately make time to listen and must be present when they are engaging with their staff.
“Don’t go in with pre-existing biases, and [instead] go in with an open mindset,” he said. “If you walk in with a stack of your own biases, you really aren’t listening.”
Work should never completely consume an employee’s life. They have other hobbies, commitments, and events that are happening outside of the office, and managers must be open to employees exploring those other areas.
“Giving employees some flexibility to do the work in a way that suits their busy, complicated lives is important,” Bushnell said. “The more you can tip the dial towards improving that balance, then they’ll be more present, engaged, and available in the end. And they’ll be happier.”
Bushnell believes managers should be giving their employees “regular and ongoing” feedback. Whether it’s positive or negative, communication is important in creating an enjoyable work environment.
“When I’m alone in my cube by myself all day long, it’s nice when someone checks on me and sees how I’m doing,” he said. “I want to know that what I’m doing is connected to the organization. I want to work with people who are interested in and care about what I’m doing.”
Bushnell also points out that feedback is best when given face-to-face. “Stop by their office, cube, or connect over Skype video and say, ‘Thanks so much. I really appreciate what you did on our projects.'”
For an employee to be happy, they have to feel like the job they’re doing actually matters. If they feel like they are wasting their time, they will ultimately become uninterested in the job as a whole.
“You have to connect their role to the larger mission of the organization,” Bushnell said. “I want to build the cathedral. I don’t want to make bricks.”
As a leader, Bushnell said, managers should make it clear what the goals are and what they are trying to accomplish as a company. They should then explain how each role fits into that larger picture.
Though it may seem obvious, employees are most happy when they are getting paid well. If a worker feels like they are not getting paid fairly, they could feel underappreciated and taken advantage of.