I recently read a quote from Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer in which she said, “Burnout is about resentment.” This thought has been on my mind now for a few days, and I think there’s something to it. The last thing any employer wants is for his powerhouse team to gradually or even suddenly burnout, but unfortunately, especially in big, fast-paced companies and even small, tightknit startups, it can happen all too easily.
However, the goal shouldn’t just be to avoid burnout. The goal should be to keep employees so balanced, challenged, content, and motivated in their work that they feel happy about and loyal toward their employer and company all the time.
4 Ways to Keep Us Happy
The crazy thing is it’s not that difficult to build a happy and loyal culture. Here are 4 basic things employers can do to keep their people happy:
Pay your people well, and provide a path for growth.
I’ve worked for a lot of smaller companies and startups that didn’t have money, and one of the things they continually asked me to do was to work really hard for very little compensation. A lot of these organizations were built around things I’m passionate about, so it was easy for me for a time to accept less and live off the intrinsic motivations and rewards of working for and toward something I care about.
But eventually, these things start to wear on you. When you can’t afford to travel or buy basic things, when you are struggling to pay your bills, when your car is about to die and you need to buy a new one, when you’re paying medical bills out of pocket. Eventually, the reality of being underpaid begins to hurt, and I think the comment above about burnout and resentment is at least a little bit true. You can only do it for so long, before it starts to hurt physically and emotionally.
If you want people to stick around, you have to pay them. That’s the deal.
Celebrate victories, and praise good work.
Some weeks and months can be incredibly draining and tedious in an office setting. I work in a marketing office where we might execute a couple of different campaigns in a given week. So, often we can burn the candle at both ends, pour ourselves into a big project, and even do more than we thought humanly possible. At the end of it, we have to stop and recognize the good things we’ve done. We have to.
And it’s even better when leaders and managers chime in on the fun. Good work should be recognized and celebrated because it reminds people that their work is important. If all you ever do is dive right into the next project, again at some point, that resentment might creep it. Take the time to affirm the good work that is happening in your office. It means the world.
Allow a certain level of autonomy.
Nobody likes to be micromanaged. At least I don’t know of anyone who does.
It’s important to be really clear with how employees are going to be measured. What data points are going to be reviewed every week or month? What tasks need to be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually? The job itself should be crystal clear, but it’s okay if the methods are a little ambiguous. It’s even okay if the location is ambiguous if a particular local is not required.
I know personally I thrive when I’m given the space to do my job in an environment that is conducive to my success. I do well in coffee shops, because they provide another layer of creativity to my world. Others might do well with a standing desk or sitting on a bean bag in a corner somewhere. Maybe they need to use a different management system than you do. Whatever. The how shouldn’t really be too rigid. What’s important is the what. Do they kick ass at their job? Awesome.
Invest in continued education and training.
This is a huge one if you want to build loyalty. Invest in the people. Teach them, coach them, guide them. Encourage them. Give them books to read. Create a rewards system for professional growth type activities. Provide opportunities to attend seminars and industry events.
Just last week our CEO sent out an email announcing he’d pay for any book we want to read that would help us be better at our jobs. I thought it was a brillant move on his part.
What training does is it reinvests people in your company, because you’ve taken the time to invest in them. It tells them that you think they’re important enough to pour their time and knowledge into. And most importantly, it tells them that you intend to keep growing and are not set in your ways permanently as an organization (which means they’re not going to get stuck in a rut).