I was recently asked this by a dear blogger friend of mine, Wide Open Wallet, and realized that it was a helluva good question! And one w/ a helluva lot of good answers as well ;) Every job is different, but many of the principles behind great places are similar.
When it comes down to it, you have to value your people. The more we feel valued, the more passionate we become about our job and the more successful we get. I’m not saying we have to be pat on the back every other day, but we do have to feel a part of the “bigger picture”.
Here’s a list of all my favorite qualities & perks in a job, in no particular order. Not every place is going to have the same size or culture to pull some of these off, but even allowing 50% of them would greatly increase productivity (and overall employee happiness!):
- Don’t micromanage – If someone gives me a project and responsibilities, I assume they trust me enough to do a good job so it’s nice to be left “alone” and allow me to get it done. I hate when people track my every move and hover over me while I’m trying to do something – if that’s what they wanted, why not just do it themselves ya know?
- Keep your (the boss’) door open – Literally and figuratively. It’s nice knowing I can just walk into our CEO’s room and ask a question or give a suggestion at anytime of the day, and without hassle. My ideas may not always get implemented, but at least I’m being heard.
- Have regular scheduled all-hands meetings– It doesn’t have to be long, maybe like a 15-30 min one, but getting all together and talking about new stuff going around the company is awesome. Sure not every department *needs* to know all the details (and only the basics should be covered), but an overall informed employee will only help your biz succeed more. Most people can agree that communication is certainly key.
- Allow your employees to explore new areas – I get bored doing one thing over and over again, every day of the week. Sometimes I ask to work on something different to learn more (as long as it helps the company of course), and it’s always rewarding even just KNOWING this is available to me.
- Move on after a mistake has happened – I already feel bad about messing up, but if you as a boss can accept it and understand it’s a 1 time thing, moving on and leaving it alone is crazy helpful. It’s the worst when it gets brought up months or years down the road when you know it’s already been dealt with (as long as it HAS been dealt with, of course)
- Flexible schedule – We don’t have to be in until 10am. Some people, like me, enjoy coming in early and getting a good start though, so I can come in at 9 and leave an hour earlier, and others (like tech people) can come in later and then stay later. Some people work better at different times of the day. Iif possible, giving them the opportunity work in their prime can only help them succeed better in the long run.
- Free coffee – It doesn’t have to be Starbucks (although that helps!) but it’s one of the smallest & cheapest perks that go a loooooooong way. Plus, it helps everyone focus and stay awake ;)
- Company happy hours or lunches – Not every week, but every now and then just to hang out and mingle as friends, and not only co-workers. It really helps with the company’s overall morale.
- Relaxed paid time off – We have a “take it as you need it” approach at my job. This obviously won’t work at all places, but being able to take off without a lot of hassle is HUGE in keeping me motivated. It’s still smart to track days off to curb abuse of course, but you’d be surprised how much less people actually take off when there’s no set amount given out. Trust and fairness go a long way here.
- Casual attire – If you work behind a computer all day and don’t interact w/ customers face to face, then allowing people to come in with jeans and tee shirt make them feel more comfortable and “free” at work. That doesn’t mean board shorts & flipflops, but it also doesn’t mean suits & ties all the time. (between me and you, I’d be screwed if I ever go corporate again ;))
I could probably go on and on (we have a slew of other goodies that are industry-related), but these are the main reasons I enjoy coming to work every day – besides, of course, what my actual job entails. As you can tell, most are pretty simple in theory, but you’d be surprised how often they’re passed over.
If you’re a manager/business owner yourself, it’s well worth the time evaluating your perks & principles every now and then to make sure you’re creating the best atmosphere for your workers. And if you’re not sure you’re on the right track? Just ask! Employees love telling each other what they really want in a company. You lock in 2-3 of their biggest requests, and you’re totally golden.
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