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Making your workplace nicer, it’s not just the money…

Andy Yates
Image: Fotolia

A happy office isn’t just a better place to spend time in, it’s frequently a key part of the success of any business. And happiness has more to do with respect and admiration from your colleagues and peers than pure cash, meaning it doesn’t have to cost the business a thing, according to a recent study by the University of California’s Haas School of Business.

We still spend most of our lives at work - and we want to enjoy it as best we can. While running a business for more than a decade I learnt many things along the way - and, of course, made plenty of mistakes. So here are my tips to make the workplace a much happier place to be.

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A little bit of praise goes a long way

Praise is a no-brainer for any boss. It costs nothing, it's easy to give and it means a lot. So why have so many bosses not got the brains to praise their employees more often when they achieve and improve?

On the flip side, a blame and shame culture rarely works for long and can quickly stifle initiative and innovation if people are two scared to take on responsibility or make mistakes.

Clear vision

How many employees really know where the business they work for is going and how it's going to get there? Communicating vision and values and getting employees to really buy into these is key for small and big businesses alike.

Sharing rewards along the way as the company grows and achieves great things is another great motivator. If colleagues share the pain, they should also share the gain.

And always try and be honest and transparent. If times are hard, show that you are prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in and that you need help from everybody.

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Creating champions

Any business has to listen and learn from employees' ideas and, after constructive feedback, let them run with those ideas. If you are the boss make your idea theirs and give them the responsibility and motivation to make it happen.

It is amazing what people can do if you let them work together productively. Make them a leader and they won’t want to let the team down. Who needs lots of middle managers if employees are willing to take on responsibility and really make things happen?

Grown-up thinking

Colleagues are peers, not children. Everybody is important and should be made to feel important. In that way they feel they can strive for excellence and take control of their own destiny - and their careers.

The simple things

One of the most important jobs for a manager is to make work enjoyable. Small rewards and shout outs for a job well done, fun perks, lunch or drinks after work can work wonders (or my particular favourite - free cakes on a Wednesday)…

Making work a nicer place to be can cost very little - but can make a big difference.

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A sick relative, a school play, the boiler packing up - the unexpected is expected in the workplace. Bosses who show flexibility and understanding in these situations can be a real plus for workers and for company morale and loyalty.

Finding that elusive and all-important work-life balance requires a balanced employer. Treating people as, well, people and understanding their individual needs and situations is an important skill many businesses seem to have forgotten somewhere along the way.

So, as in life, when it comes to the workplace, money certainly helps but it can’t buy happiness.

Andy Yates is an experienced entrepreneur, business mentor, advisor and angel investor and helps a portfolio of exciting growth businesses reach their potential including Huddlebuy, Europe’s largest business money saving website. Follow Andy on Twitter: @smallbizhelp Follow Huddlebuy on Twitter: @huddlebuy

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