What keeps employees happy? This question is fairly individual, but for many of your key-employees, the answer seems pretty straightforward. More than anything else, good employees who feel they can contribute and have a strong sense of identity, are seeking for appreciation. They might not know how you can demonstrate this appreciation to them, but they are likely to be needing it.
Appreciation can come in many forms. It’s important to diversify the means you are using to show that gratitude to your employees, as they all have different triggers and priorities in that regard. Some are just looking for friendly conversations, while others need something to take home and brag about. It’s important this approach would sink into your attention span and becomes a trait of business, rather than going down the one-time-off route.
1) Show you care about them. Sometimes a friendly approach can make all the difference. A 10 minute conversation every other morning with a few of your key employees isn’t going to harm you, and can positively affect the way they view you, and the company as a whole.
2) Give feedback. Make sure you understand entirely what they are doing, and that you have clean reports (either automated, made by them, or their managers) detailing the work they have performed over a set period, and communicate your honest, hopefully positive, feedback.
In addition, make sure they have means of self-assessing their own work. Provide clear KPIs to follow, and make sure that they are aware of the outcome of their work. For example, if your employee is in development, make sure the sales team communicates to him directly how did clients liked or disliked the components he built.
3) Give them salaries in proportion to the value they give you, and the salaries you hand other employees in the company, and not necessarily only in comparison with the so-called market. If you are paying your VP tenfold of what you pay your best developers, you might be causing a problem. If someone knows he is personally responsible of making you rich, he will not settle for a sub-par salary.
4) Incentivize. A proper incentive can solve many of the issues presented above. With an incentive relating to the employee’s own production, he gets immediate, clear feedback, can measure himself as a separate P&L unit, and increase his salary as he makes more money.
5) Training. In-house training, courses, and even paying off for high education does pay off. This is another way of allowing your employee to grow, gain from his newfound knowledge, keeping him challenged, and above all as happy as he would be if he was to receive a salary increase.
6) Give him something other don’t have. If you want to make someone feel special, give him special privileges. It could be something as silly as a corner office, more calendric vacation day, or a shiny new title.
Remember to put those suggestions into practice, and focus on the right people in the organization that actually deserve them. I’m sure it’ll be in your mutual benefit.