11 Ways to Keep Employees Happy and Engaged

Pssst … wanna know a secret? Happy and engaged employees are more productive. They’re more likely to stick around. They’re more likely to say great things about you and your company.

OK, OK … that might be the biggest “No kidding” thing you read today. However, if everyone knows that creating a work culture that breeds employee happiness and loyalty is the ultimate goal, why do so many companies stink at doing it?

Sure, not all companies have budgets that include thousands of dollars designated for “employee happiness.” You might not have a ping-pong table, video games in the break room or gourmet lunches, but, even without all those perks, you can create an environment that’s honest, fun and flexible.

Here are a few ideas:


  • Communicate transparently. Employees want open and honest communication for both good and bad news. They also want to understand the big picture. Involve them in projects that they aren’t directly responsible for to gain interesting input.
  • Clearly define goals. Being able to track progress helps employees feel in control. They have a purpose and they can check their progress. Give employees more direction by helping them set goals for themselves. A 2015 Gallup survey of 27 million employees found that of the employees who felt strongly that their managers helped them set work priorities, 66 percent were engaged.
  • Give feedback often. Timely and objective coaching will help good performers keep growing. But remember, the key is the quality of the feedback, not the frequency. If you have trouble giving productive feedback, get some training on how to do it better.
  • Help workers focus on work. Make meetings shorter. Teach employees how to streamline emails. Remind them to take breaks throughout the day.


  • Help employees bond. Employees will stay if that’s where all their friends are. So, help them bond with co-workers. Create a no email day once in a while, so employees must communicate in person. Lunches and cookouts or a day at the ballpark will give everyone a chance to get to know each other better.
  • Make sure new employees feel welcome. Don’t let a new hire spend his or her first day in HR. Host a “get acquainted” lunch or department breakfast. Give the new employee an opportunity to meet people within the department and beyond. (Hint: Make fun nametags for current employees to wear for the newbie’s first week since learning 20 new names in the department on top of figuring out the new job can be overwhelming.)
  • Reward performance — tailor it — celebrate it. Praise brings joy. Make employees feel good about the work they do. Thank them either with a note or verbally. Find out if they are more motivated by private or public recognition. If your employees go out to lunch, book a reservation somewhere. Take them out for a drink if they’re a happy-hour group. Celebrate the successes in a big way — throw a party. Dress up. Have fun.


  • Offer flexible work options.  Telecommuting, job sharing and compressed workweeks give employees options. As long as they communicate their schedules and get their work done, giving this freedom shows trust. Remember to keep in contact with HR to make sure you’re not impacting labor laws or employee/contractor status.
  • Allow creative solutions. If an employee comes up with a viable solution to a problem, don’t squash it. Give employees autonomy to solve problems … without rigid guidelines.
  • Offer new responsibility. Open communication will enable managers to recognize untapped skills and give employees a chance to use them. Most employees will eventually burn out when performing the same task over and over again. Many of them will enjoy the challenge of new responsibilities.
  • Encourage career development. Show employees they are important to you by giving them chances to learn new things and better ways to do their jobs. How about offering training sessions with a free pizza lunch? If your HR or training department isn’t capable of handling the training that you feel your employees need, bring your own training in.

Keeping employees happy is worth the effort—and it can make the difference in your company’s success.

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