Imagine what happens when you ask an employee about their grand kids or their upcoming fishing trip or their daughter’s recent wedding. How do they look? It’s likely their face relaxes, a smile appears, and their eyes gleam. What you’re seeing is joy.

What happens when you ask that same person about their job? Instead of that blissful smile you’re more likely to see frown lines etch into their forehead or the muscles in their neck and shoulders visibly tighten. Are these motivated employees? Are they productive employees?

These have not been good times for employees or managers. Whether it’s rumored layoffs or less money for yearly raises, tough economic conditions will take the wind out of the most enthusiastic staff. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Happy employees are more productive

Happiness boosts productivity. Let’s take a minute to think about kids. Imagine giving your favorite 7-year-old a task. I guarantee their only real concern will be whether the project will be tons of fun or a dreadful bore. They’re not concerned about the outcome—they just want to have a good time. And, if they are having fun, they’ll complete the task with joy and enthusiasm.

Now imagine a group of adults given the same task. They’ll start by spending a great deal of time arguing about rules, assigning roles, and debating outcomes. In fact, they might spend so much time on the nuts and bolts that they may not even produce an actual outcome by project’s end. Not exactly the picture of motivated employees, is it?

Improve employee retention by making happiness a priority

No matter what you might think, happiness and productivity are not mutually exclusive. Does keeping employees happy mean you need to show Two and a Half Men reruns on the break room TV? Not necessarily. But it does mean that managers should search for ways to bring joy—and the productivity that follows—back into the workplace. In fact, when joy returns to the workplace you might be surprised to find that you’ll improve employee retention as well.

The secret to making employees happy?

There is no magic wand that makes employees want to get up and skip into work each and every morning. However, learning more about what frustrates employees the most when on the job is a smart first step. Maybe it’s the appearance of a double-standard among departments. Perhaps it’s a supervisor’s lack of sympathy for extraordinary life circumstances, like when an employee is late because an aging parent suddenly takes ill. On-the-job frustrations—especially ones that have a solution—do not help build motivated employees.

Businesses invest so much time into crafting a business plan that details the minutiae of everything from marketing to insurance. Yet few take that same care and consideration when it comes to a business’s most powerful asset: people power. Don’t wait any longer to help that asset live up to its full—and productive—potential. Nurture productive employees and manage employee retention by discovering what saps the joy out of your staff’s day.

Remember, happy employees are productive employees.

Author's Bio: 

Dianne Shaddock is the Founder of Easy Small Business HR, Employee Hiring and Managing Tips. Through the Employee Hiring and Managing Tips podcast, blog, and weekly ‘quick tips’ e-newsletters, Dianne offers expert advice on how to make better hiring decisions, manage difficult employees, develop employee policies, motivate staff, and so much more. No stuffy, corporate HR policy lingo; but straight forward, easy to understand and implement advice for businesses just like yours. Stay ahead of the curve and go to Easy Small Business HR.com for more tips on how to hire and manage your staff effectively.