The best way to keep your company successful arguably has a lot to do with your employees’ happiness, which makes sense, right? The happier they are, the more they are going to love their jobs, which in turn will make them work harder for you.
So how do you know if they are truly happy? Sure, you can be straightforward about it and ask them in a one-on-one meeting, but will they feel comfortable enough to tell you the truth? You might then opt for the anonymous survey route, but is that really creating an authentic environment, or is it actually promoting anonymity instead of honesty?
You may not have heard of Button, but they were voted THE number one place to work in New York City in 2015 by Crain’s New York. That’s quite an accomplishment, so I spoke with Stephanie Mardell, their Director of Recruiting, about what their secret sauce for employee happiness is and how they know their employees are really happy.
Encourage your employees to have a voice
If you want honest feedback, this seems like a logical step, but it isn’t as easy as you might think. Some people often have a hard time speaking up, even if they’re told they can. As soon as an employee is hired, it’s beneficial to let them know that they are now a part of the company and that their voice really does matter.
This is something that Button seems to do really well. One of their core values, in fact, is to encourage everyone to speak boldly and honestly. Mardell told me that even their onboarding process includes going over that value. Button’s CEO is very approachable and makes sure to go over the vision for the company as well as their values from the get go.
As Mardell told me, “Communication is key.”
Set up a “suggestion box”
There’s always a debate about which one is better – in-person feedback or anonymous? But what about having both? That way, those who feel confident enough to speak up can, while those who may not be as bold can choose the anonymous route.
Mardell says Button does both. They use a Suggestion Box for office improvement ideas. This encourages everyone to proactively request office items and any office improvements they might like.
Get together as a team to discuss improvements
There’s something to be said about being more confident when you’re in a group setting.
Button has something they call a “Monthly Retro,” where they get together as a team to think about what they’ve done well as a company, what they haven’t done so well, and ideas for improvement. The meetings are two hours long, and they are somewhat anonymous in that everyone sits down with post-it notes and writes down their thoughts. They then put the post-it notes on the wall and vote on which ones are the most important issues to discuss in the two hour period. They then discuss them and have people volunteer to spearhead each action item.
Be sure to meet one-on-one with your employees
This is probably something most companies do anyway, either for their quarterly reviews or for update meetings, but making sure to ask how your employee is feeling during this pow wow can also be a great idea.
Not surprisingly, Button also does this. They have one-on-one semi-annual kaizens (which means the art of “continuous improvement” in Japanese). These are conversations where they celebrate everything an employee has accomplished and then create an actionable growth plan for the future.
I asked Mardell how important employee satisfaction is to a company, and she said, “It’s very important. When you think about building a company, you want to attract and retain the very best and brightest.”
She also pointed out that every company is different and that you don’t have to do big and grandiose gestures, but it’s the little things – like listening and leading by example, that really make a difference.
Mardell shares, “At the end of the day, it’s humanizing and allows you to see a different perspective than your own.”