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The success of your company depends on your employees, and you can’t afford to replace them frequently. It can cost you 1/5 of an average annual salary to replace a manager or other mid-level employee, and it takes time to find another employee who can meet your company’s needs. The best solution, obviously, is to keep your employees happy so they stick around.

How can you keep your employees smiling? It takes more than a few perks or a pay raise. Your employees need to feel challenged, they need to feel like they’re in the loop and they need to feel like they’re valued members of the team. Follow these tips to keep your employees happy, and your company will benefit from increased productivity and lower turnover.

Challenge Your Employees

The number one factor in employee retention is often how challenged your employees feel. Bored employees tend to look for other, better jobs where they can feel inspired, get out of their comfort zones, learn new things and become more valuable members of the work force. How would you feel if someone asked you to do the same repetitive tasks day in and day out, perhaps for the rest of your life?

Give your employees new responsibilities — ones that they can handle, of course and ones that will stretch their abilities and help them become more confident and more skilled. It will help them feel like a more valued part of the team, and will keep them from getting burnt out or quitting due to boredom.

Foster a Sense of Empowerment

No employee likes to be micromanaged. Trust your employees to solve their own problems and do their own jobs in their own ways. Foster individual responsibility in each and every one of your employees.

There are several ways to do this. One is to schedule regular interdepartmental meetings so that everyone can learn about what others in the company are working on. Encourage them to share their ideas, even interdepartmentally.

Another way to foster empowerment is to give your employees some measure of control over their work spaces. Let them choose their own work station arrangements — some employees might work better with a standing desk or a stability ball. Others might prefer to choose the paint or decorations in their offices. Having some control over his or her work space makes an employee more comfortable, and more productive.

Support a Cause

Younger employees especially like to feel that they’re making a difference in the world. That’s what makes philanthropic companies so successful. But you don’t have to re-imagine your entire corporate mission in order to become a more socially responsible enterprise.

Find some way that you and your employees can support a good cause while still getting your jobs done. Start a company fundraiser — get your employees involved in Movember, for example, or a raffle drawing. Maybe you could simply pledge to donate a certain percentage of your profits to everyone’s favorite worthy cause.

Prioritize Wellness

Healthy workers are happy workers; your employees can’t give the company their best if they’re not feeling well. Make sure your employees have comprehensive health benefits so they can get medical care when they need it, recover faster and be back to work sooner. Paid sick days let your employees stay home when they’re contagious, so you won’t have to worry about the whole office coming down with the flu from one person’s misguided devotion to work.

Many companies have wellness programs that include free gym memberships or access to exercise equipment on company property. The Affordable Care Act has implemented tax incentives that will make it easier for you to offer wellness programs to your employees.

Don’t work your employees too hard, either. Overworked employees get sick more often. They burn out faster, too. Encourage your employees to work a reasonable amount of hours each day and week and encourage them to take vacation days when they seem like they’re about to burn out.

Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

The dread that accompanies yearly performance reviews can be extremely demoralizing for employees who get no other form of feedback. What if they’ve been doing something wrong all this time? Could their mistakes be making them less valuable to the company? They have no idea — and no opportunity for improvement.

Don’t limit yourself to yearly performance reviews when it comes to employee feedback. Your employees, and your company, will benefit more from feedback if it’s given on a regular basis. Quarterly, monthly or even weekly feedback can help your employees correct performance issues sooner, before they become ingrained habits.

Keeping your employees happy helps keep your company strong. Give your employees what they need, and they’ll continue working hard for you for years to come.

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