It’s no secret that work can be stressful, but it doesn’t make it easier to face the fact that burnout is the cause for half of workplace turnover each year. In such a working environment, it’s imperative for companies to understand how to keep their employees happy, satisfied and productive to fight this type of mass exodus.
Sometimes there are inevitable workplace obstacles that deter employees even when they find themselves in a job they love and are passionate about. We need to overcome these obstacles even if it seems like a daunting task. It can start simply. Between overbearing bosses, office conflict and even outdated workplace technology, there are a number of factors that employers can and must keep track of to gauge the overall happiness and, in turn, boost retention in their offices.
Related: Why Putting In Long Hours May Not Help Your Business
In search for an answer, Teem recently released its second annual 2017 Employee Happiness Index, benchmarking the key factors that keep employees showing up for work every day -- and those that drive them away. Here’s what we’ve learned and how we can use these learnings to keep employees fulfilled and engaged.
Don’t forget the people.
As Neil Diamond has sung, “Money talks, but it can’t sing and dance and it can’t walk” -- but you know who does? People. The reason 48 percent of employees are somewhat happy or unhappy is because they feel underappreciated or a lack of work-life balance. Although money does hold high influence, people are social creatures requiring camaraderie and a sense of belonging. For the workforce, liking the people they work with is one of the top factors leading to employee happiness, outranking both a good standing with management and a collaborative work environment as the top motivator. But keep in mind, it’s not about creating groups of best friends. It’s about espousing an environment that fosters mutual respect and trust.
This may be difficult with the increased presence of new technology in the workplace that can often eliminate interpersonal activities that lead to this sense of belonging. With all the discussion about AI and the future of work, sometimes the importance of good peer-to-peer interactions gets lost for sake of technologically-driven “efficiency” and “productivity.” But the effort can’t be lopsided. We still need productive human teams behind the machines.
Related: The Secret to Increased Productivity: Taking Time Off
In light of the technological takeover, the proverbial questions in the workplace have now become: What technology can we introduce to boost efficiency? How will this affect our workforce? While quality camaraderie with coworkers is important to fostering happiness and loyalty, it’s not to say organizations can or should eschew new technologies. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want tools that make life easier?
Tech automation, like AI and machine learning, has the ability to augment workflows, increase efficiency and absorb mundane tasks. It’s no wonder why 41 percent of respondents are excited about AI making their jobs easier rather than concerning themselves with AI eliminating it. Organizations need to ensure the right technology is there to make their workforce’s life easier, but can’t forget to do it in a measured way that affords comfort (not a fear of displacement) to the employee.
Related: 4 Steps to Save Yourself From Burning Out
Avoid the battle for space.
Employees report to spending a third (34 percent) of their days in meetings which is eating up valuable time and causing a time crunch for day-to-day tasks. The anxiety this generates is amplified by constant congestion and competition for shared work spaces like conference rooms, huddle rooms, phone banks, etc. Rushed and anxious employees faced with poorly managed spaces and tools can make for an extremely dissatisfied team. And if the situation gets mismanaged, the resentments that stem from it can lead to conflicts at work and have to be cited as a major cause for disagreement and discomfort at work.
Employers should ensure that respect and professionalism are maintained. In this case, employers should do their best to make certain that spaces and tools are used appropriately and available for those that need it most to be successful. It can be done with something as simple as tools that make it clear when meetings should start and finish.
Related: 7 Ways to Boost Employee Morale
Tune in, turn on = burnt out.
This is a no brainer. Unless it is an emergency, employees should never be or feel forced to be plugged in 24/7. Our Index found that one of the few things all generations surveyed agreed on was that their least favorite aspect of the modern workplace is feeling that they are always on. HR policies can go a long way to counter this feeling.
For instance, HR policies that draw a line on client communication. Employees are sure to be happier when clients cannot text or IM them late into the evenings or on weekends. Building on this train of thought, time off should also be treated as time off. Organizations should do their best to leave employees alone during PTO and vacation; no one wants to feel nagged outside of the office. Emergencies will happen and there will be times where rules like these will have to be overruled, but employees will be much more likely to jump on board knowing that if it wasn’t critical, they wouldn’t be contacted.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the idea of balance. New tools and technology are making it easier to work, but are simultaneously introducing barriers to work. The result is work environments with a high churn rate, as employee move on to seemingly greener pastures. Remember, organizations don’t need to implement all the tools or have an “always-on” team. What they do need is happy workforce in a space that is bolstered by streamlined workflows. Are you offering what your employees need to keep ‘em coming back?
Zach Holmquist, CTO and co-founder of Teem, built Teem 1.0, and helped turn it into a powerful enterprise platform that reinvents the workplace for Teem’s high-profile clients.