Valentine's Day is here, and love is in the air. And what better way to make your employees happy and productive than to declare your love for them? Not that kind of love--that's creepy--but, rather, the platonic love that makes your employees feel cared for and appreciated--that's your goal for this week.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Make work interesting and challenging.
Seriously. According to a new survey by Virgin Pulse, 58 percent of employees love their job when it's challenging. Don't keep all the interesting tasks for yourself, and give your employees stretch assignments. They'll be happier.
2. Get rid of the bullies.
Employees are happier when they aren't working with horrible jerks. If you love and appreciate your good employees, fire the jerks.
3. Don't just follow the law.
OK, you have to follow all employment laws, but following the law exactly isn't a sign of high morality. For instance, you're not subject to the Family Medical Leave Act until you hit 50 employees. Does that mean you should just fire anyone who wants to take maternity leave? No. It might save you some money in the very short term, but your remaining employees will think, "They certainly don't love us here."
4. Bring in some food.
Work is good. Paychecks are better. Brownies in the conference room? The best. Sixty percent of employees say food at the office makes them feel valued. This is often a very small expense that can bring about great benefits. Just make sure you follow applicable tax laws.
5. Send the sickies home.
If you don't pay for sick days, you should. If you harass your sick employees to work while they are lying on the couch with a high fever, you're not winning any love. Plus, sick people in the office? They spread germs and make everyone sick. Make sure your company policy includes paid sick days and encourage people to use them.
6. Give great references for your former employees.
If you had a great employee who used to work for you, make sure you tell her future prospective employers how awesome she was. Why does this help you? Because how you treat your former employees tells your current employees what to expect. If they see that you respect people who have left, they know you respect them as well.
7. Stay off their social media accounts.
No employee loves a boss who stalks them on social media. Show your employees love by ignoring their personal social media accounts. Let them have their own private lives. If you're concerned that they'll say something that damages your business, ask yourself two questions: 1) Why is there something so horrible that making it public will damage the business? 2) Will my response to their post generate more bad press than the original post? Chances are, once you've answered these two questions, you'll realize that letting it go is the best choice in almost all situations.
8. Solve problems directly, not through policy.
If you have an employee who always comes in late, deal with that employee; don't start a draconian policy of deducting vacation for everyone who walks in five minutes late. If you have an employee who does sloppy work, don't require all your employees to copy you on emails. Just handle the problem directly. Everyone will love you for that and love you even more for not micromanaging them.
9. Adopt a culture of openness.
Do you keep everything close? So close even your senior leadership team has no clue until the last possible second? What about the people three levels down? Do they have any clue where the company is headed? The answer should be yes. Let your people know what is going on and they'll respect you and be able to plan their lives accordingly. If you can't trust your team, fire them and get a new team. If you can trust them, let them in on the secrets.
10. Think flexibility.
Some employees love structure and like to punch a clock. A lot more value flexibility. Telecommuting twice a week? Leaving early on Tuesdays for a graduate seminar? These things make people love to work for you. When they know they can take care of life and work, they have more positive feelings toward the boss.