How to Keep
Your Employees Happy and Productive in the Midst of a Recession
By Dr. Donna
LaMar and Betsy Laney
In light of today’s economic landscape, it’s more important
than ever for companies to have happy and productive employees. When
employees are loyal and engaged in the company, profits are higher.
Conversely, when people feel unmotivated or undervalued, the company
suffers. Additionally, studies show that engaged employees miss less
work, perform better, and are more supportive of changes and willing
to make them happen.
But keeping employees happy in any economy is hard work. Why?
Because happiness is, primarily, an inside job. In other words,
happiness comes from within a person. However, friends, family and
employment can add to or detract from someone’s happiness level. So
if the workplace is stressful and/or painful things are happening,
such as “back-stabbing” and gossiping, employees’ production goes
Happy employees are also satisfied and feel a sense of
accomplishment in their work. They like themselves and what they do,
and they find satisfaction from their work – a sense that what they
do is important and meaningful. Such feelings reduce stress, which
is a major factor of productivity.
In order to make your workplace one where happiness and
productivity thrive, consider the following guidelines.
Be a “good”
A “good” employer
is one who sets clear expectations to employees, including what is
to be done, when it is to be done by, and where it goes after they
complete their responsibilities. Within these expectations, you need
to set clear boundaries, demonstrate healthy leadership and provide
sound direction. This means spelling out rules, regulations,
policies, and procedures. While you can usually accomplish this by
creating a comprehensive employee manual, a good employer or manager
will also use the “personal touch” by talking with employees in
group and one-on-one settings.
Whatever expectations you set, make sure they are consistent
with all employees. Include such things as clocking in early, break
times, lunch hours, etc. For example, is it acceptable to clock in
early and leave work early? Are breaks mandatory? Will an employee
be “docked” if they consistently take too long for lunch? The more
issues and expectations you outline, the fewer problems arise, which
leads to productive workers.
Help employees to
Be encouraging to
your employees and offer praise when appropriate. Thank employees
for doing a good job and let them know that you value them. Should
something go wrong or someone makes a mistake, don’t “punish” the
person. Rather, talk to the person, teach the correct procedures,
and offer encouragement and further teaching when needed. Remember
that punishing people only makes things worse in that the employee
may become angry and bitter and may want to sabotage their work to
get back at the company. If errors continue after correction, then
you may need to evaluate that person to make sure he or she is a
good fit for the job.
As an employer, you have an excellent opportunity to make a
difference in your employees’ lives. This may mean a smile, asking
how their family is, or asking about their interests or problems. If
you sense that someone is depressed, help that person get the
necessary resources, as employees with depression have higher
absenteeism, increased health problems, and decreased performance.
Remember that we are all humans working together to get through
life. We need to care about each other to get the best results.
Create a productive
The physical layout
of the office is important to maximizing productivity. People need
enough room to work, the correct supplies/materials, and a
comfortable and pleasant environment. Make sure all equipment is
designed ergonomically so that it positively motivates workers by
helping them with their needs to do the work.
Ecotherapy is another element of a productive environment.
Some factors of ecotherapy include:
Make sure the
environment has live green plants. People feel better
about themselves, their jobs, and the work they perform when
they feel a connection to nature around them. In fact, workers
who are near plants or windows report significantly higher job,
boss, and co-worker satisfaction than those without. They also
report being happier. If live plants are not an option, pictures
or murals of outdoor scenes have some benefit.
healthy air to breathe. Indoor air pollution is a serious
problem in buildings. Change air filters regularly, and if
appropriate, allow employees to keep their windows open.
sunlight when possible. If offices or workspaces don’t have
window access, install full spectrum or plant light bulbs in all
fixtures, including overhead florescent lights.
food choices in the cafeteria or break room. Healthy food helps
people think better, improves mood, and increases energy levels.
Do a healthy food challenge at work to encourage people to eat
better. Also, have a restaurant bring in healthy food
occasionally for a catered lunch.
to personalize their work space, within reason. We all need a
place to call our own.
workplace family friendly. Life balance is a major stressor for
people. Therefore, allow workers to take time off for school
events or to stay home with mildly ill children without using
sick or vacation days. If possible, offer child care near or on
premise. Research has shown the employer can subsidize the care
because it saves so much money from decreased absenteeism. Offer
13 weeks of maternity leave and also some paternity leave, and
have elder care resources and referral services and/or dependent
care assistance plans in place.
comprehensive employee manual that is clear and simply written. In
it include procedures for handling every imaginable scenario,
including family emergencies. Ask employees for their ideas for the
manual so they feel a sense of ownership with the company.
Additionally, help employees feel involved by having regular
meetings where everyone can voice their opinions and concerns. This
has an added benefit in that the company can gain valuable
information about products and concerns that will hurt the bottom
line. Also, host special employee events where the family can be
involved, such as picnics, fairs, workshops, etc. The more sense of
“family” you can create, the more productive people will be.
Finally, have a designated charity where people can donate
both money and time. This helps each person to see the larger
picture. Research indicates that people feel better and have better
lives when they volunteer. It also helps the company’s bottom line
by increasing employees’ performance and demonstrating to the
community that the company cares.
Keep ‘Em Happy;
Keep ‘Em Working:
feel that they are a dynamic and essential part of the team, they
are more productive and willing to go the extra mile for their
customers and co-workers. Therefore, give praise openly, set goals
appropriate to the work, and always take your employees’ needs
seriously. By respecting and listening to your staff, you’ll be
giving them the motivational push they need to stay loyal and
committed to the company’s goals. And when you have a happy and
productive workforce that is eager to contribute, your company can
weather any economic storm.
Read other articles and learn more about
Dr. Donna LaMar and Betsy Laney.
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