4 ways for IT managers to keep their staff happy

Everyone knows that happy employees are better employees -- but what, exactly, is the key to employee happiness?

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Everyone knows that happy employees are better employees -- but what, exactly, is the key to employee happiness?

That’s a question that recruiting company Robert Half explored in the new report, The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees. After surveying more than 12,000 professionals across North America from a range of industries including technology, it found that when you have happier employees, they’re more engaged, more loyal, creative and productive than employees who aren’t as satisfied.

While that’s not all that ground-breaking, honing in on the technology industry did provide some interesting insights. For example, tech professionals:

  • Rank as the fourth-happiest professionals (topped by those in marketing, HR and legal industries);
  • Hold the No. 4 spot for professionals who are most interested in their work;
  • Are the least-stressed professionals, followed by those in finance, marketing and HR. (Do you agree?)
  • Are most likely to say they are paid fairly for the work they do; and
  • Report the best levels of work-life balance, with 73 percent of respondents feeling happy about this area of their jobs.

So what contributes to the relative happiness of tech professionals? It boils down to six factors, the report found, in which IT professionals ranked higher than the overall industry average:

  • Regularly learning new things at work (65 percent in IT vs. 54 percent in other industries);
  • Paid appropriately (66 percent vs. 55 percent);
  • Able to influence important decisions in their work (63 percent vs. 51 percent);
  • Are able to be creative in their job (58 percent vs. 47 percent);
  • Receive constructive feedback on their performance (58 percent vs. 48 percent);
  • Are appreciated for their efforts at work (66 percent vs 58 percent).

While those findings are relatively positive, it’s important to note that one-third of IT pros are not regularly receiving new learning opportunities; more than a quarter aren’t satisfied with their work-life balance and nearly half don’t have opportunities to be creative.

To help build happier IT teams, Robert Half offers IT managers four tips:

Empower your staff: Help your teams build confidence in their decisions, develop critical-thinking skills to make more meaningful contributions, and work to be more invested in their job. “Your goal as an IT manager should be to make yourself available for input and make sure team members know it’s OK to take smart risks by stretching their problem-solving muscles,” the Robert Half team advises. 

Show appreciation: Show your staff that you sincerely appreciate their dedication by saying thanks for their effort. “According to the study, when people feel appreciated, it prompts their brains to make them feel generally happier,” the report writers say. “When offering praise, be sure that it is not only sincere, but is also very specific to a particular effort the employee made.” And don’t delay positive feedback -- say something as soon as possible. 

Support work-life flexibility: Encourage staff to take breaks during slow periods at work and explore flexible benefit options that your company offers, Robert Half advises. Lead by example, too: Leave the office at a decent hour, avoid sending late-night emails and unplug during vacations, when possible.

Cultivate camaraderie: The report found that people who report having positive relationships with others on their team were 2.5 times more likely to be happy on the job than those who don’t. So what does the Robert Half report suggest? Encourage these relationships with group lunches, team-bonding events and holiday gatherings.

What makes you happier at work? 

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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