Money Talks, So Should You

5 steps to having happier workers

Good bosses manage passions, schedule wisely and communicate well. It's not so tough.

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Happiness on the job can be elusive, but it’s attainable.

For instance, 70 percent of employees consider their friends on the job as the main key to career satisfaction, as opposed to 55 percent who view salary as the biggest factor, according to an October study by the U.K. employment portal JobSite.

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But the gateway to genuine career satisfaction goes deeper than that, which is why Morgan Norman, chief executive and founder of San Francisco workplace analytical firm WorkSimple came up with a list of tips employers can use to upgrade their employees’ career satisfaction levels:

  • Be crystal clear. Always keep staffers in the loop, otherwise they may grow disillusioned and check out emotionally on the job. “If your employees aren’t aware of organizational news, team shakeups and how they need to operate, don’t throw it in their face when they are going in the wrong direction,” Norman says. “Be clear and transparent with what you expect from them.”
  • Work schedules matter. Norman says managers have to know the personalities of the employees they manage. That’s particularly true when it comes to how employees work. “If an employee works better in groups or with flexible work schedules, encourage this behavior,” he says. “If they are the loner type, that’s OK, too. Don’t force them to change how they perform; it’s essentially ingrained in them and will likely backfire and decrease their morale. Adjust to them.”
  • Let employees “air it out.” Frustrations can easily simmer and explode in the workplace. Mitigate any potential crisis right away and you’ll see happier staffers. “Offering employees real-time feedback helps them with their individual goals,” he says. “This gives employees the answers they need now, rather then later. Don’t wait until yearly or quarterly performance reviews to offer advice and direction. By the time those roll around, that feedback doesn’t really matter anymore, since it’s probably old news.”

READ: Five trends redefining the workplace in 2013

  • Manage “passions.” What do employees really care about on the job, and what do they excel at? Finding the answer to those key questions is critical to promoting job satisfaction in the workplace. A big head start is to make sure employees do what they love. “Say you have a star performer who’s great at hands-on presentations,” Norman says. “Don’t stick them in a back room and have them only work on preliminary research. This isn’t what they’re good at, and it’s not what will make them the happiest. Rule of thumb: If employees are doing work they’re passionate about, the output will probably be positive.
  • More honey, less vinegar. Norman says on-the-job perks and incentives tend to resonate highly with employees, and managers should be offering more. “Don’t look at incentives as bribing,” he adds. “Look at them as a motivator. They don’t have to cash, either. Incentives can be half-days, parking spaces, free lunches or even working from home. It stimulates employees to perform better while at the same time helping them feel appreciated by the organization.”

For happier workers, Norman also advises managers to give them more space, allowing plenty of room to grow on the job.

It’s all about allowing individuals to grow professionally, the WorkSimple ethic says, and if you can manage that, you’ll have happier and more productive employees.


Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The He is a former Wall Street bond trader.