Make Your Employees Love Their Jobs

happy employee

Only about 1/3 of the employed are happy at work, according to an Ivy Exec survey.

The rest are bored, angry, twiddling their thumbs, and waiting for their chance to punch out.

People hate work, it turns out, because it is just too much. That’s the bottom line of a report by from the The Energy Project, a consulting firm that worked with Harvard Business School on research about employee burnout. They identified four primary needs that must be met for people to feel engaged at work:

  • Physical–through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work.
  • Emotional– feeling appreciated for their contributions.
  • Mental—being able to focus on important tasks and controlling their work.
  • Spiritual–doing what you do best and enjoy most, and feeling that you have a higher purpose.

The problem, of course, is that the modern workplace and modern life are not set up to encourage and reward these things.

Motivate Your Team with Policies and Praise

Managers are not immune to the same pressures as the rest of the team. Everyone is stressed out, trying to balance work and home, and keeping up with rapid economic and industry changes. But study after study shows that the more engaged an employee is, the more productive as well.

If you want to get your team re-engaged addressing those core needs can turn the tide. Doing so means shaking up some long-held methods of measuring and promoting employees. Instead of relying solely on metrics to determine if employees and managers meet their goals, more awareness of how people are achieving their goals and how they prefer to work should be part of the evaluation. Team members who create negative environments, lash out, or simply fail to be appreciative of their team should not be promoted.

Some of the changes are policy-based: Employers can offer flexible schedules and encourage employees to participate in wellness programs. Working through lunch and not taking vacation time should not be expected or encouraged.

Other changes are simply a matter of attitude and communication. Praising employees for their effort and achievements can go a long way to making people want to work harder.

Being aware of, and responding to employees needs is also within every manager’s grasp. But too many managers try to control  processes and people to an extent that actually leaves talented people feeling disempowered. As the authors of the study told the New York Times, “Partly, the challenge for employers is trust. For example, our study found that employees have a deep desire for flexibility about where and when they work — and far higher engagement when they have more choice. But many employers remain fearful that their employees won’t accomplish their work without constant oversight — a belief that ironically feeds the distrust of their employees, and diminishes their engagement.”

Managers who encourage employees to work in more sustainable ways have happier, more engaged employees. The result: managers won’t have to spend so much time recruiting and hiring after yet another team members leaves.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and iVillage.com, among others.