You may have excellent employees, but if they’re not led well, you and your business will struggle. The importance of treating your employees well can’t be underestimated. You may not be able to make your employees millionaires, but the way you treat them and the environment you create for them makes a lasting difference.
How you treat your employees often affects the morale of the company more than the individual income levels. Certainly, compensating your employees well is important, but how you treat them may even be more important than high pay.
In 2015, Harvard Business Review published an article called “Proof that Positive Work Cultures are More Productive.” They concluded that cut-throat, high-pressure business cultures are less effective than inclusive businesses that prioritize their employees’ emotional needs.
In the short term, your business may thrive under high-pressure management. Your employees may work twice as hard to meet your rising expectations.
In the long term, however, there are significant consequences to the high pressure, specifically:
- High healthcare costs and increased health issues among employees
- Disengagement among employees
- Lost loyalty – high turnover rate
Health Issues with High-Stress Jobs
The number one issue that arises from high-stress businesses is the toll it takes on your employees’ mental, emotional and physical health.
A study conducted by BMC Public Health concluded that individuals who work at high to medium strain jobs visit their general practitioners 26% more than those who work at low-pressure jobs. They also go to a specialist 27% more often.
Studies such as this show us that, in order to present a safe and healthy working environment for employees, it’s important to take note of the mental, physical, and emotional strain of the job.
Workers who are disengaged are less likely to perform well, and far more likely to have an accident or make a mistake. According to OfficeVibe, fostering and creating an engaging environment, including caring for employees’ NON work-related needs, has been shown to increase employee retention by up to 87%
High-stress jobs also lead to high turnover rates. Employees don’t feel loyal to jobs that leave them feeling unhealthy and unappreciated.
According to the American Institute of Stress, the number one cause of stress in people’s lives is their workloads. They also said that 19% of people polled had quit a previous job due to stress.
The cost of replacing an employee is high and should be avoided when possible.
So, how can you be sure that you’re treating your employees well?
To help your employees feel like they’re valuable members of the team, there are a lot of things that you can do.
Here are some highly effective ways to let your employees know that you care about them and to help you create a non-toxic work environment:
- Compensate them well. Compensation is not always monetary. You don’t have to pay your employees so well that you forfeit a healthy budget. However, paying your employees a fair wage will go a long way. Including incentives, benefits, free time, team activities, “just because it’s Wednesday treats” etc goes a long way to making your team feel seen, heard, acknowledged and understood.
- Offer flexibility where possible. There are a growing number of employees who really desire flexibility in their work schedule. A study from the Harvard Business Review said that 96% of US professionals want flexibility in their schedule, but only 47% feel that they have it in their current position. While a 9-5 job was once the norm, this is changing with younger generations. Employees want the option to have a flexible schedule that fits their lifestyle. Many applicants are looking for jobs that allow them to work remotely, or to have the ability to work from home some of the time. With the right remote working training, allowing for this possibility will go a long way to create healthier, happier, more robust and productive teams.
- Listen to your employees and show them that you care. Taking the time to listen to the people who work for you will make a difference in how they feel about their time at work. Do your best to give them your undivided attention. Set the phone down, walk away from the computer, and let them know you’re paying attention by looking at them and being present. If you’re completely unavailable at the time, schedule a time that you can speak with them.
- Show your employees appreciation. Almost everyone needs to feel that the work they do is seen and appreciated. Some personality types need more affirmation than others, but most people need to know that the work they do is important and valued. A survey conducted by Glassdoor found that over half of the people surveyed said they would stay at their company longer if they felt appreciated by their boss.
- Have reasonable expectations. It’s easy to feel like your employees have easy jobs. It’s especially true if it’s something that you’ve been doing well for a long time. While you certainly don’t want to employ people who are completely incompetent, remember that people learn and acquire skills at different rates. Something that you’re completely comfortable doing may take a new employee some time to master. Be patient with them while they’re learning and refrain from becoming easily annoyed.
- Establish a Wellness Hour. While it is true that work is a place of work, there is also power in play, scheduled freetime other than lunch time and dedicated time for individual or team introspection. Giving your employees time to have a mental health break and occasional fun either individually or as a team can have substantial benefits.
In addition to finding employees that fit your culture, you also want to cultivate a culture that people work well in. There are practical ways to help grow a workplace culture that’s functional, sustainable, and productive. A diverse work culture invites diverse growth opportunities and opens up access to spaces that would otherwise be inaccessible.