Ways to Create Employee Happiness & Growth Opportunities

plant growing

Keeping employees happy means providing opportunities to grow, according to a recent poll of over 10,000 employees conducted by Blind professional network.  “Nearly 80% of employees who reported they had significant personal growth also reported they were happy in their current role” (Kim, thrillist.com).  Mega-companies Netflix, Bloomberg, and Google rose to the top for happy employees due to growth opportunity according to the Blind survey. We need to find ways to create employee happiness and growth opportunities.

In today’s economy of low unemployment, it is essential to prioritize employee happiness.  In The Truth About Employee Engagement, author Patrick Lencioni says that being happy means wanting to feel like you matter, that you have an impact, and that you are making progress.”  While job security and financial stability are important to job satisfaction, so are opportunities to use one’s skills and abilities. The bottom line is that people need to continue to grow in order to remain engaged and productive (Camille Preston, Ph.D., Forbes.com).

What Growth Looks Like

An individual’s definition for growth comes in many forms.  For some, growth may be slow and steady, while others expect a meteoric rise.  Growth may mean a new job title, an increase in pay or the opportunity to manage.  Growth may also come in the form of learning a new skill or having the freedom to work from home.

The best way to understand what growth means to each individual employee is through honest conversation.  Honest conversation means showing vulnerability on both parts.  Employees may hesitate to discuss ambitions because they can come across as dissatisfaction in a current role.  It’s important to talk to employees in terms of short and long-term goals.  For some, reaching the next level of growth can be all-encompassing; employers should see this kind of ambition as a plus but be cautious about setting realistic timelines.

Since personal and professional is intertwined with any employee, employers should not overlook the personal side of growth.  Many employees have outside passions that employers can factor into the growth equation.  These could include charitable causes, an advanced degree, or even getting in shape.  Jessica Hicks at Thrive Global states: “Supporting employees with endeavors that might have nothing to do with their job titles comes with a host of benefits for workers and bosses alike.  Engagement in a passion project has been found to help workers reduce stress and boost energy levels.”

What can employers do to support personal growth?  It may be as simple as offering a flexible schedule, building internal enthusiasm for a cause, or simply supporting employees through period check ins.

Cultivating a Community of Growth

To ensure that employees always feel that they have growth opportunities, companies can develop and communicate internal growth pathways.  These might be career ladders or criteria described in annual reviews.  Larger companies might offer incentives to internal applicants applying to on open positions.

A fierce professional development track managed by a learning management system can give employees the opportunity to track educational growth.  Companies might use e-learning platforms or set up coaching or mentoring programs.  “Managers should not be afraid to ask employees if they need help, and they should relish the opportunity to pass on skills or knowledge to their employees (Choi, Glassdoor).

Think about short term projects or “stretch assignments” where employees use skills that may not be a part of their current daily workload. Opportunities to shine might include leading a committee or using a soft skill like public speaking.

Manager Recognition

Some employees need nothing more than manager’s acknowledgement of their growth.  This recognition can go a long way in creating a happy environment.  Managers should be as specific as possible with growth feedback. Praise can go a long way. It’s highly motivating.  Some employees wait all day for managers to respond to and praise their work.  Praise, given in the right way, can result in more effort and better quality work.

Artemis Consultants is an executive recruiting firm which seeks to match employees with opportunities for now, but also to positions where they can see future growth.  Please visit our website to view our current job postings.

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