Gauging how happy and fulfilled employees are in their jobs is important for small business leaders to do in order to determine the health and strength of their businesses. The more satisfied employees are, the more likely they’ll stay with the company long term and the higher their productivity will be. But how can you know if your staff is enjoying their work, especially when they may not feel comfortable expressing their true feelings with their superiors?
To help, 10 small business experts from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) answered the following question:
“What’s one effective method small business leaders can use to gauge the happiness and fulfillment of their employees? Why is this so important to do regularly?”
Here are some of the top strategies they recommend.
1. Ask Them in a Safe Environment
“Keep it simple and just ask. Create a safe environment for team members to give you feedback at any time. You’ll be amazed at what they bring you, how much personal responsibility they hold for the business’s success and how quickly the team will grow. Stop treating employees like subordinates; they’re your team members and you’re the coach.” ~ Steven Knight, Mosaic Home Services Ltd.
2. Be Authentic While Interacting With Them
“Speak to them authentically. The problem is that an environment that encourages forced answers is one in which it’s hard to gauge happiness. When a boss is accepting and authentic with their staff, the staff will feel the ability to communicate authentically as well.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
3. Measure Productivity and Well-Being Twice a Year
“Small employers need to act like large employers when it comes to measuring the productivity and well-being of their workforce. Productivity and well-being build a resilient, engaged and hard-working workforce and help to attract and retain your top talent. Measuring these factors twice a year is easy for any leader to do.” ~ Tom Finn, LeggUP Inc.
4. Conduct Regular Check-Ins
“Relationship-building and fostering a culture that encourages both feedback and open dialogue are key. We sometimes swap out weekly team calls for all-team check-ins where each member of the team is given the space to share how they’re really doing, personally and professionally. No one is compelled to share, but most often do. It’s a good way to get a quick temperature check on where folks are at.” ~ Danielle Allen, Building Impact
5. Examine Initiative and Innovation Levels
“Gauge the level of initiative in your organization. If your employees are spearheading new projects, adding new elements to their positions and finding new solutions for problems, then you have a winning company culture. If they’re only doing what they’re told, then you have a stale environment without any creative energy. That’s a major momentum killer. So, encourage innovation and initiative.” ~ Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets
6. Look at How Often They Are Tardy
“It may sound simple, but keeping an eye on employee tardiness can give you real insight into how employees feel about their work. Being late for work can signify many things, but if it’s consistent, then the employee may be struggling with their work-life balance. This in and of itself can imply that they are not happy in their work.” ~ Ismael Wrixen, FE International
7. Look for Consistency in Performance and Attitude
“You can ask all the questions you want, but an unhappy employee won’t tell you the truth anyway. Actions speak louder than words and so the best way to really know if an employee is still happy with you is by checking how consistent an employee’s performance, attendance and attitude are. This acts as a check and balance for you and your employee to both improve for the better.” ~ Daisy Jing, Banish
8. Provide a Feedback Box for Anonymous Opinions
“Small business leaders can gauge their employees’ happiness and fulfillment by creating a feedback box, which gives the team the option to remain anonymous and give more transparent feedback about what improvements can be made. It’s crucial to regularly receive feedback so you’re aware of what happens behind the scenes and can make well-informed decisions moving forward.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
9. Give Periodic Employee Surveys
“Every quarter, year or month send out a quick questionnaire or survey to track and trend employee satisfaction. A great question to ask in your assessment is how likely they are to tell their friends and family to work at the company. This is a quick way to determine whether they are happy at work and proud to be your company’s employee.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
10. Assign a New Task and Examine Their Response
“Periodically ask an employee to do something for you that would require a bit more effort on top of their day-to-day tasks. If your request is met with enthusiasm, you have a happy employee who is motivated to grow with your company. If you are met with resentment, that employee is most likely not happy or fulfilled. This is a good exercise to gauge fulfillment and motivation in your teams.” ~ Matthew Capala, Alphametic