Here’s a pop quiz: when it comes to the happiness of your employees, which of the following best describes your attitude:
- I want them to enjoy their work, but “being happy” is not in the job description. That’s for them to pursue on their own time.
- Keeping my employees happy is good for business. They will be more productive, turnover will be lower, and our clients will be better served.
- Who cares if they’re happy? This is work, not play. They should be happy to have a job.
If you answered B, congratulations. Keep reading for confirmation that you’re on the right track. If you answered A or C, condolences. Keep reading to learn how to make your practice stronger.
“Loyal, passionate employees bring a company as much benefit as loyal, passionate customers,” writes Rob Markey in the Harvard Business Review. “They stay longer, work harder, work more creatively, and find ways to go the extra mile. They bring you more great employees. And that spreads even more happiness — happiness for employees, for customers, and for shareholders.”
And here’s the best part: creating a happy workplace doesn’t have to cost any time or money. In fact, it will bring big savings on both counts.
Creating a Positive Firm Culture
An economics study at the University of Warwick in the UK found that an employee’s production increases 12 percent when they are happy. If they’re unhappy, their production drops 10 percent.
But we don’t need science to tell us that. We know it’s true from our own experience.
That’s why one of your goals as a manager should be to create and maintain a firm culture based on happiness, positivity and well-being.
“People are an organization’s number one asset, so keeping them happy should be an organization’s number one priority,” says Dorothy Yiu, co-founder and CEO of EngageRocket, which helps companies build better workplaces. “Employees who are unhappy do not work more than the minimum because they don’t feel appreciated. Poor managers negatively affect their productivity.”
4 Ways to Keep Employees Happy
- Recognize them. Research shows that praising employees will instill greater loyalty than a pay raise or bonus. Tell them when they’ve done a good job. Let them know they’re a valuable member of the team. A hand-written note, acknowledgment at a staff meeting, a gift card to the corner coffee shop. Simple, personal gestures go a long way.
- Trust them. Give them discretion on how to do their job. Don’t micromanage. Offer flexibility in their schedule. Let them work from home on occasion. “If you trust people and treat them as adults, they will repay you by working effectively and efficiently,” says Virgin CEO Richard Branson. “Choice can empower people to make good decisions and feel positive about their workplace, helping to keep great employees and attract new talent. If we all work smarter, we won’t have to work longer.”
- Invest in their wellness. Show that you care about your employees’ physical health through free gym memberships, a break-room fridge stocked with healthy snacks, and group walks at lunchtime. Invest in emotional and mental well-being with birthday celebrations, movie nights, an office book club, or time off to recharge.
- Talk to them. Consistent communication is a hallmark of a healthy law office. Keep the lines open. Solicit feedback. Be receptive to new ways to get things done.
Whatever methods you use, take some time to collect and analyze the data. Which seem to work best? Which do your employees appreciate most?