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10 Practical Ideas for More Passionate Employees

Friday, October 2, 2015
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Your business will fail if you don't take care of your employees.

If they feel too much pressure -- whether at work, home or both -- their efficiency drops. When they don't have the support or capacity to accomplish everything on their to-do list, they burn out. And productivity fizzles with them. Or they quit.

As leaders, it's our job to appreciate our employees, give them the organizational support they need -- and get out of their way, so they can do their best work.

Here are 10 ways we can do just that.

1. Reward successes. We all need a little nudge to stick with our commitments. So why not reward employees when they do something awesome, like mentor a co-worker or reach a fitness goal? Use a wellness program to introduce incentives, such as social recognition, gift cards or extra paid-time-off hours. When you reward their achievements (both big and small), they'll routinely go above and beyond.

2. Create a supportive, collaborative workplace. I don't hire jerks. No joke -- it's a stated policy. People are more productive because we genuinely like each other. Empower employees to take short breaks and get to know their colleagues. A fun, inviting office reduces stress, increases cross-departmental collaboration and drives productivity.

3. Host stress-management workshops. Workplace stress contributes to almost $190 billion in healthcare costs. Your employees carry the weight of their personal worlds when they walk through the door every morning. Bring in stress experts to lead counseling sessions, group meditation or lunchtime yoga -- and encourage your teammates to take those stress-relief tips home with them.

4. Invest in financial literacy. Speaking of stress, let's talk money. According to the American Psychology Association, about three-quarters of your staff are likely worrying about their bank accounts right now. You don't want them thinking about money. You want them thinking about their job performance. Design simple, supportive benefits and give people access to the right resources (such as on-site sessions with financial advisers) to get their finances in order.

5. Encourage a growth mind-set. When employees don't see opportunities for advancement, they become disengaged and ineffective. Show them you care about their career development by giving stretch assignments and setting clear growth goals. Your all-stars will learn new skills and grow quickly -- and they'll likely stay with the company that's promoted their performance along the way. You may even "promote" someone out of the company -- to go back to school or pursue his or her authentic passion. Do it the right way, and culture will thrive.

6. Focus on excellence, not perfection. Perfectionism can cause employees to freeze. Fear of failure then leads to a hiccup in productivity because they're wasting company time to get something just right instead of testing, learning fast and improving daily. Make a conscious decision when a task requires an A+ and when a B will do.

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7. Allow flexible work hours. This stat shouldn't shock you: Nearly 75 percent of employees want flexible work hours. Everyone has an ideal schedule, where the stars and their concentration levels align. Your early birds want to work earlier, and your night owls want to stay late. When it makes sense, let your people determine their own hours or work remotely. Measure key performance metrics, not hours at office desks. But demand effort and outcomes.

8. Restructure the way you work. Multitasking kills productivity, but we can't seem to stop. We can, however, limit its control by taking a sledgehammer to the way we schedule our workdays. Consider mandatory meeting-free days or focused work blocks to avoid a back-to-back-meeting culture, which zaps employee energy and effectiveness. Share time-saving hacks using social networks and old-fashioned lunch-and-learns.

9. Prioritize preventive care. At the most basic level, you want your employees to see their doctors. Regular checkups prevent absenteeism and unchecked health issues. Do your employees (and yourself) a favor. Bring the medical professionals straight to them with free on-site health fairs and biometric screenings. Show you care, and reward those who actively participate in their own preventive care.

10. Have the courage to say "no." If employees don't believe you have their best interests in mind, your bottom line will suffer. So, focus on initiatives that align with your core values and culture. Avoid the ones that don't feel right. You might lose sales by not going after every potential piece of new business -- but you'll retain your most passionate talent. And when your employees are happy, your customers are, too.

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