Happy and Productive


Good employees are hard to find — and even harder to replace. The costs of employee turnover can average from 20% to as high as 200% of an employee’s salary, depending on the job’s skill level. When you lose seasoned staff, the quality of your products or service can suffer and you might miss opportunities to grow your business.

You can help reduce burnout by creating a work environment that reduces stress, supports a healthy work-life balance and rewards employee contributions. Here are five ideas that can help keep your valuable employees happy.

Hire the right people from the start 
Focus your recruiting strategy on finding employees with the right aptitude for the job, as well as a personality that fits with your company culture. Help reduce employee turnover by choosing candidates based on performance expectations rather than basic skills and experience criteria. For example, a job description for a marketing position could specify that candidates manage daily, weekly and monthly campaigns in different channels and develop quarterly marketing ROI reports — rather than simply say the position requires someone with 5+ years of marketing experience.

To determine whether a candidate is a good cultural fit with your work environment, ask questions about his or her motivation, work habits and goals. This can provide valuable information about how well a potential employee might fit with your team.

Offer competitive compensation 
Make sure your salary and benefits offerings are in line with competitors by studying benchmarks from sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private research organizations and surveys in trade magazines. Consider expanding traditional health and retirement plans with benefits that may appeal to your staff. For example, if most of your employees are parents, you might offer Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts.

Allow flexible work schedules 
Consider allowing employees to work outside of a traditional on-site, 9-5 schedule.  Popular options include telecommuting, compressed work weeks, flexible start times, and allowing employees to work outside of traditional business hours. Several studies indicate that as many as 77% of employers now allow at least some of their employees to work flexible hours, while 63% allow employees to work some hours at home. If a flexible schedule or alternative work arrangement fits with your company’s structure and business operation, you may find it a positive approach to helping employees maintain a healthy work/life balance so they are better focused on helping you grow your business.  However, a word of caution:  specific rules may apply when it comes to correctly compensating hourly employees working on an alternative or flexible work schedule. Accordingly, always consult your legal counsel who may have specific guidance for implementing an alternative work arrangement.

Set clear goals and provide feedback
Employees thrive when they see a clear path for career advancement and understand what’s expected of them to get there. You can set these expectations using twice-annual performance reviews that let managers and employees collaborate on goals and track progress. Look for opportunities to invest in training and other professional development as well. Employees are more likely to stick with a company they feel is willing to make a commitment to them.

Praise achievements
While competitive salary and benefits, good working conditions and professional development opportunities are important, don’t overlook the simple value of saying thank you. Send handwritten notes to employees who have done especially good work or produce a monthly newsletter highlighting employee milestones and achievements. Foster a healthy work environment by hosting regular team lunches with smaller groups and celebrating the completion of major specific projects.  Recognition gestures like these can both make employees feel that the company truly values their contributions and can go a long way toward boosting overall satisfaction.