6 Ways Tech Managers Can Boost Employee Happiness (and Productivity)
Because happy employees are productive employees.
With the demand for tech talent booming, tech companies and managers are always looking for ways to keep their teams engaged and not browsing for a new job on LinkedIn. Some companies use fancy perks (which many tech employees really don’t want) to try to keep their tech teams from jumping ship while others try team building activities (which many tech employees really don’t want to do) to try to boost employee morale.
A recent study showed that employees that are “happy” are on average 12% more productive and at best, 20% more productive than unhappy peers. Happy employees are also less likely to be checking out the careers page on your competitor’s site. Simply put, tech employees aren’t like regular employees — due to the extreme demand for their talent and the nature of their jobs, what they need to be happy is inherently different from those in other areas of the company.
Here are 6 data-backed ways to boost employee happiness as a tech manager:
Be Interested in their Future with the Company
Most tech employees typically don’t want to stay in the same position forever. Just like in a romantic relationship, it’s important to have an open conversation with the other person on what goals they want to accomplish and how you might be able to accomplish those goals together. Nearly 10% of tech employees report they leave a current employer if they didn’t see a real career path for themselves in the company. Unless you want a valued employee to break up with you over not seeing a future together, it’s critical to keep them in the loop. It’s not me, it’s you…oh wait, yeah, it’s you.
Money Does Equal Happiness
Remember the adage, money doesn’t buy happiness? Turns out that’s only partly true as several studies (including our yearly survey and this recent Dice Report) report that salary and bonuses directly correlate with overall job satisfaction. Translation: money doesn’t equal happiness in life, but it does improve morale and overall happiness in the workplace.
Bonuses also appear to have a significant impact on job happiness. Although only 37% of tech professionals received a bonus this past year, 60% of those that received a bonus reported being happy with their current compensation. That’s compared to an only 48% happiness for those that didn’t receive a bonus.
Give More Responsibility
Wait, employees are happier if they have more to do? Surveys of tech employees show 33% of tech employees would consider leaving their current employer to gain more responsibilities with 5% listing it as their #1 reason. If you think your employees are just lazy, maybe they just don’t have enough responsibility? We’ve heard horror stories from developers hired for a role only to not be allowed access to everything they need to do their job. We’re not advocating for throwing a green hire into a position without training, but once they are up to speed, trusting them to access critical systems is part of their job description.
If there’s not more responsibility you can give to a tech employee, it’s never a bad idea to have some cross-training programs in place for your team to build skills and act as backup just in case. In small tech environments, it’s not unheard of to have one person be the only person on the team that knows a certain system. This is a bad idea on so many levels and can result in disaster if that employee ever leaves or even wants to take a vacation.
Ask for Opinions and Listen
Good managers appreciate and consider employee input. Even if the input is not good or is never implemented, showing that you are listening and considering their thoughts and opinions rather than instantly dismissing them, is vital to a happy tech team.
For tech teams, it’s also very important for their advice to feel wanted, especially for decisions that affect their work. Have meetings where everyone can share their idea or opinion and make sure that no one feels like their idea was rejected for as being a bad idea. Instead, once you decide on the route to take, let the team know the positives of that idea and why you chose it, rather than any negatives of the other ideas.
Ask for Feedback on your Leadership Style
Poor leadership is one of the top reasons tech employees abandon ship. Although no-one wants to think they are a poor leader, you don’t know unless you ask for feedback on your leadership style and how you can personally improve and motivate individuals on your teams. Personalizing your leadership style for individual employees can also help them meet their potential.
If you’re a new leader or manager, reading books or attending conferences on leadership is a great step to take as well.
Maintain a Work-Life Balance
We all have heard the phrase “work-life balance” but what does that really mean? To some employers, it means a ton of fancy perks that make the workplace feel like a fun-place that isn’t work. Free beers, napping pods and ping-pong tables sound fun, but these are perks that keep them AT work. When it comes to maintaining work-life balance, tech employees don’t want fancy perks that keep them AT work, they want perks that allow them to enjoy more time AWAY from work. Instead of free beers after work on Thursday, why not give employees the option to leave an hour early OR go out for free beers? I think you’ll find a happier, healthier and more engaged workforce by allowing options and choices.
Other ways you can promote work life balance? Try offering partial or full telecommuting, flex-hours so employees can miss rush hour traffic, and other perks that encourage them to enjoy life AWAY from the office.
What are your tips to be a great leader in the tech space? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Becker is the Client Partner of IT Staffing Firm PROTECH, www.protechitjobs.com. Her expertise has been featured in a variety of publications including The Ladders, Recruiter.com, Monster, LinkedIn, Tech.co and more. You can reach her with comments, feedback or to be featured in an upcoming story at email@example.com.