10 ways to make employees happier in 2015

As we start a new year, employers are trying to come up with new ways to reinvigorate employees, and build and foster a more dynamic company culture. Let Derek Irvine, an experienced employee recognition consultant and co-author of The Power of Thanks, help. 
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One simple way to breathe new life into your workforce and culture is by focusing on “thanks” and social recognition.
According to Globoforce’s Spring 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey, 73% of employees who are recognized at work feel happier in their jobs. Thanking your employees daily and, in turn, encouraging them to consistently thank each other, will go a long way; as will implementing a recognition program that can help streamline and track moments of “thanks” in your company.
By saying “thank you,” you will not only have happier employees, but employees who are more engaged, motivated and loyal to you as their employer.
Here are 10 ways to create a culture of recognition, and make your employees happier in 2015:

1. Thank your employees every day

It’s no secret that employees want to feel appreciated in the workplace. What you may not know is that recognizing employees at work not only increases their happiness at the office, but also at home.
While “thank you” is instinctual, it’s most powerful when it occurs repeatedly, and in a timely manner. Focus on recognizing employees on a consistent basis throughout the year.

2. Foster friendships at work

According to Globoforce’s Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey, 89% of employees say work relationships matter to their quality of life.
Work friendships inspire and motivate employees, make employees feel more loyal and connected to their company, and provide the foundations for building trust among colleagues.
By encouraging friendships at work, you create a happier employee and also an employee who’s more productive and committed in the workplace.

3. Pay attention to employees’ needs

Some managers are more task-focused than people-focused. Instead of looking at their employees and their needs, they’re looking at their to-do lists.
In order to make employees happy, you need to make it a priority to notice and truly see how your employees are feeling.
By keeping your head up, you’re not only in a better position to see and acknowledge your employees’ needs, but also their contributions, which puts you in a much better position to reward their work.

4. Nurture your company’s culture

Your company’s culture should inspire your employees to achieve great things. A healthy company culture is the most powerful way to find, build, and retain an engaged, high-performing workforce.
Choose the values that define your company, and then encourage your employees to express those values in their everyday behavior.
Instituting a recognition program can help breathe life into these values and make them actionable for employees every day.

5. Encourage employees to celebrate each other

Every company is a collection of communities and of human beings, bonded by their connection to each other through their work.
By giving employees the opportunity to congratulate and thank each other for their work, a culture of recognition naturally emerges through associative behavior.

6. Create better leaders

There’s an old adage that people don’t leave companies, they leave their bosses.
Managers should set expectations, identify emerging leaders and support the growth of those individuals through mentorship and training.
By encouraging these leaders to thank their teams often and, in turn, encourage the same behavior among employees, a palpable rise in employee happiness will occur.

7. Show employees empathy

The importance of humanity in the workplace can’t be overstated. It’s one of the critical components of developing and retaining employees because, as humans, we have an incredible need for acknowledgement and compassion.
Listen, support and protect your employees, and encourage the same behavior among all teams by celebrating instances where great connections occur.

8. Prolong the honeymoon

New hires love their jobs, are more engaged and feel appreciated and acknowledged at work. However, after passing the one-year mark, these feelings tend to wane.
According to Globoforce’s Spring 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey, 71% of employees in their first year at a job love it, but only 55% said the same about their second year.
In order to keep employees happy, make every year feel like the first year. Recognize and appreciate your employees as often as possible so their enjoyment and engagement in the job starts high and stays high.

9. Unite your team

Today’s multigenerational workforce calls for an adaptable culture that is functional for a variety of different styles and approaches.
Understanding people’s motivations and work styles, and being sure to make room for all of them in a united workplace, will help you make great strides in energizing your team.

10. Give “thank-you” gifts

Everyone loves receiving gifts. So why wouldn’t the same apply in the workplace?
According to Globoforce’s Spring 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey, 59% of employees find the most memorable recognition includes a reward.
Consider giving employees a gift with tangible value, such as a choice of merchandise or gift card, which will in turn improve their engagement, motivation and happiness.
Derek Irvine is the co-author of The Power of Thanks and vice president of client strategy and consulting at the social recognition firm Globoforce.