8 Tips On Developing A Happy, Productive Team


Your Work Environment Can Be The Bees-Knees With These Simple Adjustments

An overwhelming amount of data shows us that happiness is a key factor in employee productivity. From online newspapers to industry-specific magazines, widespread support of a happier workforce is accompanied by photos of inspiring campuses, mahogany boardrooms, and colorful cubicles.

Many of these articles highlight structural enhancements and million-dollar landscapes. Some morale-boosters, however, require little more than a conversation around pizza. Deep pockets and teams of site designers are not necessary, especially in the world of a small business owner.

Employee morale within small businesses is unique; individual employees impact business on a grand scale. Additionally, small business owners tend to interact with their employees more often. Frequent interactions lead to a deeper appreciation and connection between leaders and employees.

This emphasis on individuals, combined with the desire to maintain interpersonal relationships, creates a distinct organizational culture. Individualized and specified tools are needed to support the motivational needs of these smaller workforces.

Thankfully, enhancing morale and productivity doesn’t need to involve outside consultants and a complete HRoverhaul. A few simple, well-executed actions can make an impressive impact with fairly little financial commitment.

1. Feedback

Create an effective way to consistently communicate with your employees about their performance. Weekly briefings, quarterly sessions, and yearly reviews give you the ability to provide direction or praise. They also provide employees with the opportunity to express concerns, address outstanding items, and ask questions.

Honesty and responsive listening is vital to the success of these meetings. Performed correctly, they can develop into something an employee looks forward to. Cue motivation!

2. Food

Food is the universal language of appreciation. It can boost spirits and provide a welcome break from the computer screen. Food can accompany accomplishment, like the completion of month-end, or celebration, like hitting a target for the quarter.

Notice a group of employees who went above and beyond? Take them to lunch, loudly. Make sure everyone sees and knows why they are being taken out. Not only will the selected employees feel valued, but others will be motivated to follow suit.

3. Associate Appreciation Committee

Start an associate nomination movement. Designate a leader and a few assistants to create ballots, nomination forms, prizes, and events. Give the committee a budget and do everything you can to attend the reward or recognition event. Leadership involvement in employee-sponsored functions lends credibility and displays a devout dedication to associate appreciation.

4. Casual Fridays

Choose one day a week, if possible, and allow associates to wear jeans. It is sure to start their day on the right foot and gives everyone something to look forward to.

Job requirements getting in the way? Create seasonal casual days, instead. Try sports themes, holiday-inspired garb, or uniform variations (designer scrubs, for example).

5. Holiday Flexibility

Nothing speaks more to an appreciation of healthy work-life balance than work hour flexibility around the holidays. Close the offices when possible, but if you must stay open, be sure to supplement your employees’ time with extra pay, food, or time off later in the year.

A sure way to lose the morale of your employees is to threaten their time with family and friends. Be creative by asking for holiday volunteers, creating a rotating skeleton crew, and planning hours well ahead of time. Above all, never expect your team to show up to work if you aren’t willing to be there yourself.

6. Genuine Attention to Detail

Remember the names of your employee’s children. Keep a calendar with birthdays and anniversaries. Complement a new car, give a housewarming gift, send a card when the new baby arrives.

A boss who cares and concerns his or herself with the simple, yet important, elements of an employee’s life outside the office is guaranteed to foster loyal and valuable connections with their employees.

7. Rubbing Elbows

Are you a few pegs up the totem pole? Take time once a quarter to invite entry-level employees to brunch. Nothing generates excitement like the opportunity to sit next to the company CEO. Listen to their concerns and, when possible, resolve their problems. Morale will skyrocket, as will your credibility as a leader.

8. Career Development and Mentoring

Notice someone who could use a little help? What about the star employee always searching for a challenge? Take the time to mentor these people. Lead them into roles that fit their skill sets and maintain connections to their overall well-being, as opposed to only what they can do for your bottom line.

A good leader recognizes that he or she can’t do it all; training, delegating, and sharing your secrets sparks creativity and develops a great sense of self-worth in your employees.


The daily shuffle and demands of business often cloud our ability to truly focus on employee morale. Productivity without motivation, however, is a ship without a sail. Encourage your team to drive full steam ahead by sticking to these simple, affordable tips. Your employees will thank you, as will your bottom line.


Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Jennifer Ludwigsen is a freelance writer with a colorful variety of skills gained from her time as a U.S. Army medic, mother of two, and ingenious life-lesson learner. She currently works for the largest medical group in Illinois in multiple administrative capacities, serving both the executive team and the vast practitioner and patient population. Jennifer has leveraged technology in multiple facets of her life to enhance her corporate day job, evening parenting job, and late-evening freelancing job. Connect with Jennifer on TwitterLinkedIn, and her website, Concentrated Creativity.