Keeping employees happy at work

Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company. ~ Zig Ziglar

According to an article referencing a survey they had done, Forbes magazine lists the following as the top factors in employee happiness:

  1. Appreciation for your work
  2. Good relationships with colleagues
  3. Good work-life balance
  4. Good relationships with superiors
  5. Company’s financial stability
  6. Learning and career development
  7. Job security
  8. Attractive fixed salary
  9. Interesting job content
  10. Company values

For tonight’s post I really want to focus on the first item as it’s particularly relevant to me right now. Before that however, I want to draw attention to number 3, Work-Life Balance as this is something that I very often talk about and I do keynote talks at conferences and trainings about this very subject and it is something I’m very passionate about in my own life.

This past week I spent two days at the ECEPTS, Early Childhood Apprenticeship conference in Ontario, California. I was there to attend sessions, to do a panel presentation as well as meet with some folks from the Biden Administration. However the conference turned into much more, I happily made some connections with people whose names I’d often heard and had even been on email chains with about apprenticeship. Is was particularly nice to get to work with another dean who I have a lot in common with, as well as finally work in person with many of the ECEPTS team who I had only worked with via Zoom.

I was very proud of my team and our program, we got lots of positive recognition for the work we’ve been doing and my team and I were in demand for lots of side discussions and questions. Personally, the conference was very satisfying because I got a lot of positive attention and recognition for my role in the work we’re doing and for the development of non-traditional apprenticeships in early childhood education.

The attention went further than just compliments and kind words, in fact I was offered some consulting gigs, some partnership opportunities for our college, as well as a straight up job offer. So the appreciation felt truly sincere. And this lead me to really think about job satisfaction and recognition.

Both the Zig Ziglar quote and Forbes magazine survey results above reference the importance of recognition for doing good work on the job. In higher education where I work, unfortunately as a manager, I don’t have the authority to give that recognition in the form of financial compensation. So as a manager I have to be creative about showing people how much I appreciate what they do. Simple compliments are more powerful than you might think, emails and most powerful hand written notes of appreciation work well. But there are other ways as well, giving someone professional development opportunities, being more than flexible for people doing a good job and even taking opportunities to make sure others on campus know how good of a job they are doing. I’m also very fond of giving people cupcakes and the occasional bottle of wine. And as hard as this can be, it’s critical as a manager to find ways to make sure people know they are appreciated.

This is why this past week felt so great for me. But it also was a pretty strong reminder of what I don’t get from my current job. It’s unfortunate for any employee to find out that they are more appreciated, regionally and even nationally, than they are on their own campus. Typically, for me, this is the type of revelation that really tells me it’s time to move on from my current position. The message tonight my friends is simple, if you’re not getting what you need from any job or any type of relationship, it’s time to take care of yourself. Do the analysis of whether or not it’s better to stay or move on, there are always costs for both. But at the end of that analysis, if you’ll be happier and better off moving on, as hard as that may be, be good to yourself and move on. The goal for all of us is always, happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane.

About Michael Kane

Michael Kane is a writer, photographer, educator, speaker, adventurer and a general sampler of life. His books on hiking and poetry are available in soft cover and Kindle on Amazon.
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