It's much easier to make your customers happy when you have happy employees helping them. And while financial incentives are always nice, sometimes simply recognizing what they're thinking or feeling can go a long way towards increasing your employees' satisfaction.
1. Listen to Them
When employees vent, do you get caught up in their words or do you hear the underlying problem? If they are unhappy, and it's a reasonable request, do your best to fix it. If an employee's issues have started to affect their attitude, you need to fix the problem before it spreads or before that employee hands in her notice.
Let your employees know they can speak to you candidly. Sometimes they want a problem solved; other times, they just want a sympathetic ear. Figure out which they want and act accordingly.
2. Be Supportive
Many people think that support is a one-way street, in that employees support the business and not the other way around. Understand that you have an important relationship with your employees and, if you foster it properly, you can create satisfied employees that help your business grow quickly.
Consider how you can support your team. Educational development and training, motivation programs, and incentives can show that you care about each of your employees and make them feel more vested in contributing their all to your business.
3. Encourage Employee Development
Employee development sounds like it must be expensive, but it can be done simply too. It can range from setting up an informal book club to sharing thoughts on the latest developments in your industry to lunch-time lectures from one employee to the rest of the team.
4. Nurture Their Growth
Offering your staff an environment where they can develop discipline, foster growth and cultivate sustainable habits will help them grow with your company. Do your best to treat your employees as equals, not minions, and encourage their capacity to grow. If you know a particular employee has grown out of his current position, don't hold him back; consider him for a promotion or give him additional responsibilities to take on.
5. Show Your Appreciation
Gestures and words of appreciation always brighten someone's day.
While buying a cake for the birthday boy may seem fun (unless that person is on a diet), instead, let the employee choose how to celebrate their special day. Stick a Post-It note on a staffer's desk with a cheery note of appreciation. Give your staff a half-day off after they've met a particularly grueling challenge.