The five secrets of keeping employees happy and productive

Set the right expectations, look after wellbeing and consider your mix of rewards if you want to inspire your staff, says Royston Guest

Some of the greatest assets of your business walk out of the door every night. What are you doing to get them to return the next day inspired, motivated and enthused? Here are five ways to ensure employees remain happy and productive.

1 Understand the why

One of the keys to unlocking a motivational environment is to clearly understand your people's personal goals and how being successful at work can be one of the vehicles and enablers in helping them realise their goals. The moment we create the bridge in their mind – the link between their personal goals, business goals and what they do daily during work – is when self-motivation kicks in. 

This is the defining moment a person changes from someone with a job to someone with a purpose. While the motivation to do so must come from within, the triggers that compel people to make the switch can be created by an organisation and its leaders. 

2 Put emotional wellbeing on an equal footing 

Employee wellbeing is critical to your business wellbeing. To give your best, you have to be at your best, and while healthy and motivated employees can have a positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of a business, the opposite is also true. 

The health and wellbeing of your people should be an integral part of any HR strategy. Put employee wellbeing on the business agenda. Individuals are not just looking for the highest salary or the most significant bonus on offer; they're looking for companies that can help them achieve a work-life balance, and leaders who care about what's going on inside as well as outside.

3 Set people up for success

If you asked your people what excellent performance looks like, feels like and acts like in their role, from both a behavioural and numerical perspective, how aligned would their answer be with your version? There should be one version of the truth, but in my experience perception and reality are often misaligned. 

If you haven't created absolute clarity about what the expectations are for a role, explained and demonstrated what excellence looks like, and set employees up for success, it's almost inevitable that you and your people will be working to different models and interpretations of what excellence is.

4 Don’t empower without enabling

Empowerment is an overused word that means little without enablement. Having one without the other is simply a train crash.

Often, training is created to serve the majority of the needs of those carrying out a general role, rather than catering for the individual needs of each unique employee. Although there is some efficiency in the traditional way of thinking, there is magic in making learning and development suit the individual.

5 Attend to your EVP

Your employee value proposition (EVP) is the balance of the rewards and benefits received by your employees in return for the skills, capabilities, experiences and performance they bring to your organisation. 

Job satisfaction is driven by far more than financial factors such as salary and benefits, and your EVP must have the right blend of non-monetary rewards such as relocation services, career development, choice of work location and flexibility to spend time with family.

The success of any business is hardwired to the productivity of its people. Organisations that consider people as merely a paid resource have difficulty retaining high performers and generally end up overpopulated with underperformers. Businesses that value people as their greatest asset and demonstrate it through their actions are positioned to get the best out of all employees while retaining their top talent and high potential.

Royston Guest is CEO of Pathways Global and the author of Rise: Start Living the Life You Were Meant to Lead