5 Ways to Make Your Employees Happier and More Productive

1. Enable flexible work.

In the study, more than a third of small-business employees reported that flexible schedules would increase happiness and minimize burnout. In order to balance the rising demands on both work and personal time, small businesses need to allow employees to work flexible hours and remotely. Small-business employees are not just looking to balance work and personal life, but to have the ability to blend the two together. The underlying force behind flexible schedules is an inherent trust from employers that their employees will get done what they need to get done, in the time frame they need to do it, even if that’s not traditional 9 to 5 hours. This means that employees can step away at 11 for a school play, leave early to coach soccer practice or duck out for a doctor’s appointment and know they can finish work from home later in the day. This allows people to not only juggle the increase in demands in their work life, but their personal life as well.

Related: Here's What the Future of Work Looks Like to Millennials and Generation Z (Infographic)

2. Encourage employees to step away.

Small businesses need to push employees to take more breaks at work so they can have downtime, network with their fellow employees and some of your best ideas for work come from when you aren't doing work. The research uncovered that almost half of those employed by small businesses don’t feel like they can step away from their desk for a break. More than a third of small-business employees acknowledge that if their employers encouraged them to take breaks it would help alleviate burnout. One idea to encourage breaks is to ensure your breakroom is well-stocked and comfortable or provide more compelling incentives like free food, snacks and coffee to encourage employees to step away from their desks.

3. Rethink that email.

The biggest reason why employees are "always on" is because they are constantly connected to email via their smartphone. Small-business employees are getting bombarded with emails around the clock and feel compelled to answer them because they don't want to appear like they are ignoring the sender. About half of small-business employees say they receive too much email, with about one-third of those saying that email overload hurts productivity. In order to have fewer emails answered after work hours, managers should make messages as "urgent" that they want responded to.

Related: Get More Done by Following 'The Productivity Diet' (Infographic)

4. Make meetings actionable.

The work force is overwhelmed with meetings, and most of these meetings are viewed as ineffective. While small-business employees spend less time in meetings than the general worker population, more than a quarter say meetings are inefficient. Instead of having meetings, for the sake of having meetings, have one meeting a week that is structured and actionable. This way, employees have more time to think things through and meetings serve a purpose.

5. Align office space and culture.

The study revealed that small-business employees have a higher tolerance for distractions. Only 41 percent of small-business employees say that a distraction-free environment would increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent, compared to 50 percent of the general worker population. However employees agree across the board that loud coworkers as the top distraction. The research reinforced that office design is a highly individualized proposition. For some company cultures, employees might thrive in open offices where collaboration and open communication are prominent, whereas others may need a bit more quiet, personal space. The fact is, there is no one size fits all approach. Survey your own employees and ask what their preferences are and ensure feedback aligns with your chief business goals, whether that be productivity, engagement, collaboration or creativity. Remember that your aim is to create the right environment for your culture, not to hop on the latest design trend.

5 Ways to Make Your Employees Happier and More Productive (entrepreneur.com)

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