It's an unfortunate statistic that 52% of working Americans aren't happy at their jobs. And while some disgruntled employees might manage to power through, others can easily fall victim to that glaring lack of motivation. As a manager, however, it's your job to address your team members' gripes and find ways to make their on-the-job experience more satisfying. As we prepare for a new year, here are a few steps you can take to improve your employees' outlook.
1. Make yourself more available
As a manager, you probably spend a chunk of your days in meetings. Throw in the various reports and projects you're responsible for, and you might struggle to find the time to sit down with your employees face-to-face. But the last thing your team members want to feel is ignored or intimidated to approach you, so if that's been the case thus far, working on making changes. Carve out some time in your schedule each week to meet with your employees individually. If that's just not possible, put a standing team meeting on the calendar so that everyone gets a piece of your time. Giving your employees a chance to voice their concerns, air their grievances, and get your input is bound to make for a more positive working experience.
2. Be more generous with praise
The last thing any employee wants to feel is underappreciated. If you've been stingy with praise in the past, aim to dish out compliments on the regular in the coming year. This could mean composing a brief email applauding someone for progress on a project, or acknowledging someone's efforts in a group setting. You don't need to go overboard on praise, and in fact, you shouldn't, because it could then come off as insincere. But if you make an effort to recognize individual contributions, your employees are more likely to feel valued, which will help improve their attitude on a whole.
3. Work to get them more money
A big reason so many employees find themselves unhappy at work boils down to money. If your team members feel like they're not being compensated fairly, they'll be less likely to do a stand-up job, and less likely to feel good about the idea of coming into work every day. And that's why it's important that you advocate on their behalf. You can use sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor to research the going rates in your industry and compare those to what your employees are making. If you come to find that your company is underpaying its employees, you can make a case to change that in order to retain key talent.
4. Be flexible
You never know what sticking point might turn a happy employee into a dissatisfied one. Perhaps it's the notion of battling traffic to and from the office every day, or struggling to keep up with family related obligations in the face of persistent deadlines. That's why it pays to be as flexible as possible with your team, as opposed to holding them to a strict schedule. If, for example, you have an employee whose commute is horrendous, let that person work from home a few days a week. And if you're dealing with a worker who's pursuing a graduate degree, let him or her leave early during finals week, provided the work gets made up afterward. The more leeway you give your employees, the more content they're likely to be.
Having unhappy employees doesn't do you any good from a personal or business perspective. So if you come to learn that your team members are mostly dissatisfied, take steps to change that. With any luck, you'll be rewarded in the form of hard work and dedication.