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WORKHAPPY

Joe Szynkowski: Hey bosses, use these three tips for happier employees

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A recent survey of more than 1,000 human resources professionals revealed some of the biggest challenges facing organizations today.

MindEdge Learning and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) published a study that outlines various concerns, including rising employee burnout and difficulties with remote processes.

Here are some of their most striking findings:

Burnout is real: 80% of respondents reported an increase in employee burnout in the past year, including 37% who cited a major increase. According to the study, more than a third of respondents’ companies have not taken any steps to address burnout. Yikes.

Turnover is on the rise: 54% of respondents note higher turnover than before the pandemic, according to the survey. Employees have more power in the job market today than ever before, making it critical for employers to come up with thoughtful ways to retain their talent.

Remote training is insufficient: The report found that most employers (61%) are not offering any remote-work training. As companies continue to push back return-to-work dates, making sure employees are up to speed on technology is paramount.

When it comes to keeping their employees happy, different companies are taking different approaches.

Over the summer, the global dating app company, Bumble, shut down most operations for a full (paid) week to help employees unplug. The response was so positive that the company has increased their companywide reset time to two full weeks, while also offering employees “unlimited vacation.”

Small businesses in Southern Illinois may not be able to offer the same perks to their employees – heck, they are worried about finding enough employees to keep the doors open – but there may be ways to emulate some version of this locally.

While the aforementioned study was a national effort, there are many lessons we can apply here at home. I reached out to a few local business owners while writing this column and they each had different tips and tricks that have worked for them.

Give employees a voice

Many workers simply want to feel heard. Not so they can climb the ladder or receive more kudos, but because they actually care about the health of the business.

TJ Cowan, owner of Cold Blooded Coffee & Roastery, says creating a safe environment for his workers to share opinions and make improvements has led to a better company. It has also helped turn his employees into leaders. For one employee in particular, “by giving her the ability to pitch ideas that shape the business, she’s invested now and bought-in.”

Some of the best bosses I’ve worked for have great ideas and vision, but they are willing to allow others into the process of bringing them to life.

Have a family-first approach

Josh McCree, co-owner of a Marion-based accounting firm, says family comes first when it comes to ensuring happier employees.

“The things employees have seemed to actually appreciate are flexible work times and a family-first approach,” he said. “Kid sick? Stay home, we’ll take care of it. Funeral? Stay home, we’ll take care of it.”

Flexibility has legs. I talk with an average of five job seekers per week. Prior to the pandemic, “more pay” was one of the driving forces of their quest for a new job. Now? Flexibility and more family time.

The pandemic has changed the way we work. Remote and hybrid employees are here to stay – which means they don’t need to necessarily stay with you.

Treat them well, give them a voice, and respect the things they value.

This is a winning equation.

Joe Szynkowski is the happy founder and owner of The UpWrite Group, a small local firm that has offered corporate communications, personal branding, public relations, and ghostwriting services since 2008. Email Joe@TheUpWriteGroup.com for more information.

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