6 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Employees Happy At Work

Everyone wants to enjoy their time at work, especially considering it takes up, on average, a massive 92,120 hours of our life.  

Creating a positive environment to work in, and in turn keeping your employees happy can be tough.

As a business owner and leader, you’ve got a lot on your mind, like how to keep spending down, hiring another member of staff to keep up with demand, and what exactly should you be doing on social media?

Amongst all these things, it is important to remember that your staff are the driving force of your business. Keeping them happy will prove majorly beneficial for the success of the business and keep them with the company longer.

There are a few things that you as a boss should avoid doing to make sure everyone enjoys coming to the office.

1. Avoid Public Shaming

6 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Employees Happy At Work

You discover that a staff member has made a mistake which ended up costing the business, so you need to discuss this incident with them.

You could either:

  1. Call them out for their blunder in front of the whole office, and hope that they will be so embarrassed, they never dare make another error again.
  2. Or you could speak to them privately about the matter to find out what went wrong, and work out how to avoid such an instance happening again.

Which of the two do you think would be more beneficial? Which would your employee prefer?

The first will create a very uncomfortable environment for your staff, damage the confidence of the person in question, and could even promote bullying in the workplace.

Who wants to work in an office like that?

Using the second approach, you will demonstrate that you are aware of the problem, and want to work with your employee to ensure it doesn’t happen again. You may be firm, but showing support and a genuine interest in their improvement and progression will help soften the blow and encourage development.

They want to avoid a repeat as much as you do, and addressing the issue in a nurturing setting rather than publicly shaming will produce far more positive results.

2. Be Constructive With Your Criticism

6 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Employees Happy At Work

We all want to be recognised and rewarded for our hard work, but sometimes the attention instead falls on our mistakes.

Negative feedback isn’t fun for anyone, but sometimes it is needed.

When you are required to give negative feedback, make sure you only do so in a constructive way. Doing so will make the process far more bearable and can even become positive.

To make your criticism constructive, try these things:

a) Focus on the situation itself, and not the person. Doing this shifts the criticism away from the person and instead onto the situation or action itself. This way it won’t seem like you are accusing or attacking them, making them more receptive to what you have to say.

b) Offset negative with positive. We’ve all heard of the feedback sandwich and know the benefits of adding positive affirmations to negative feedback.

For example, telling a staff member “You are very skilled at developing strong campaigns for the company, and I’d love you to progress your communication skills to the same level” will assure them that they are performing well in certain areas, but that you’d like to see improvement in others.

c) Get the full story. Make sure you haven’t made any assumptions; get all the details first. Ask for your employee to explain how they see the situation and evaluate this against how things appear to you. It could be that there has been a miscommunication along the lines, and you’ll avoid coming across as accusing.

d) Make your feedback actionable. If you are suggesting ways to improve something that has already happened, your staff can’t put them into action.

Instead, give feedback that they can go away and work on. Telling them “The piece you wrote for our last client was too formal and passive” won’t do any good, so instead try “Your writing tends to be quite formal, and written in a passive voice. I’d like you to work on making it more relaxed and informal, and writing in an active voice”. This way they know exactly how to improve.

Your employees won’t appreciate you telling them something wasn’t good enough, and then being left to wonder why, or what they should do to improve.

This won’t help them grow or progress in the business, or in their career, and they could eventually look for this support at another company.

3. Accept Feedback From Your Staff

6 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Employees Happy At Work

Going on from the last point, as a leader you also need to be willing to accept feedback from your team.

Whether the feedback is personal or related to a project or aspect of the business, it is invaluable.

You would want a client to tell you how you could improve, so why is it any different coming from your employees? Both forms of feedback are equally as valuable.

It could be that an idea you had just isn’t working, and a team member needs to relay this to you. They may have thoughts on how to improve on your original idea.

Instead of getting defensive, thank them for taking the time to try out your method, and for letting you know that it doesn’t bring the results you hoped. Welcome their improvement, and ask how they think it will impact the results.

There is always the chance that the person giving you feedback isn’t very good at doing so with tact. It would be very easy to lose your cool and get defensive, but this will only cause problems.

Instead, listen carefully to what they have to say. Once they have finished, ask for their suggestion as to what could be done instead so that you can come to an actionable solution.

Making sure your employees feel listened to supports the fact that you appreciate them and their role within the company.

4. Don’t Redirect Blame

6 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Employees Happy At Work

We all make mistakes, and we must all be held accountable for them. This applies to those in charge as well.

If a problem has arisen as a result of something you did or failed to do previously, it’s time to take ownership.

Trying to shift the blame onto one of your team also involved in the process won’t look good, and it’s likely that everyone already knows the mistake is yours. You will look like you are running away.

By accepting that you are at fault, your team will respect you more for it. You can then work together to resolve the issue.

Working with your team is incredibly important. Telling them to ‘deal with it’ themselves will not be appreciated, especially if you were the cause of the problem. You’ll instead promote higher stress levels as they try to clean up the mess without your support.

Use this as an opportunity to learn from, and work out how such mistakes can be avoided in the future. You can then move forwards as a team, with a better understanding of how to deal with and prevent the same mistake from happening.

5. Don’t Take Personal Frustrations Out On Your Staff

6 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Employees Happy At Work

Before leaving for work, you had a massive argument with your partner. It’s left you in a bad mood, and your temper has been simmering on your commute to the office. You need to let your frustrations out.

You get to work and decide that one of your sales reps hasn’t been pulling their weight, and you lose your temper at them in front of everyone.

This creates a lot of tension throughout the office for the rest of the day. Everyone will be on edge because you are in a bad mood, and will try to avoid you at any cost.

Chances are that if you had taken the time to try and calm down, and remembered that your employees have nothing to do with your argument from the morning, the whole situation could have been avoided.

In your angry state, you probably blew out of proportion the fact that the sales rep only just scraped the goal you set them last Tuesday. They still hit the goal, but now they’ve been left feeling victimised, confused, and embarrassed.

This isn’t the way to run your office, and won’t promote a positive working environment for your team.

Everyone has bad days, and things are likely to go wrong in your personal life. However, you should remember that these things aren’t the fault of your staff, and they also go through similar issues themselves.

If you’ve come to work in a bad mood because of a personal frustration, take some extra time to yourself at the start of the day.

Grab a coffee and drink it slowly while at your desk. Watch some cat videos to help you destress. Do something that will help you refocus on the day ahead.

If you feel you need to bring up an issue with someone in your team, rethink your approach first. Make sure you’re tackling the issue in a calm, constructive manner, instead of blowing your top.

6. Create A Work/Personal Life Balance

6 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Employees Happy At Work

If you get on well with your employees and feel you can discuss the events happening in your personal life with them, you can bond as a team based on your interests.

However, there is a line that can be crossed, and you can bring too much of your personal life to work.

If you are going through a tough situation at home, discussing it with people you trust can help lift a weight from your chest.

However, don’t get a staff member to record an argumentative phone call between you and your soon-to-be ex-partner, so you have evidence for a court custody battle. You’ve crossed the line and left it way behind you at this point and made a very uncomfortable situation for your employee.

Alternatively, spending a whole morning on the phone to your internet supplier trying to book someone to go to your home and fix your router isn’t professional, and sets a terrible example for your staff members.

Calls like this are for lunch breaks or after work, not during working hours. How will seeing this motivate others to work hard?

If you are the only one allowed to make personal phone calls, you are creating a double standard that could cause resentment in the office.

You are there to work just as much as your team is, so build an appropriate and professional work/personal life balance. If you neglect this, the result could be a negative environment that your staff will want to escape.

Written By
Richard Kao is the sales director of COSSales, a UK-based office and tech solutions provider. He has first hand experience of how a happy, motivated team can affect the success of a business. When he’s not busy assisting B2B clients, he’s often reading blogs like Career Metis and experimenting with the latest marketing trends.
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