Why keeping staff excited is key to a productive business

Sylvia Pennington

They’re your employees which means you’re paying them to show up and do a job. If they enjoy it, great, and if they’re bored stiff, then stiff bikkies, right?

Not according to Parisian worker Frederic Desnard, who’s suing his employer, cosmetics company Interparfums, for more than $A500,000, for its alleged attempts to bore him into leaving his well-paid position.

While few workplaces can promise staff the prospect of full-strength excitement 100 per cent of the time, a team that feels itself to be sunk in boredom is unlikely to set productivity records.

So what are the secrets to keeping staff interested and engaged – and hard at it on your behalf?

Back off

Give them tasks then let them get on with them, without breathing down their necks, says EFEX Group founder Nick Sheehan, whose IT services company is experiencing 400 per cent growth, thanks in large part to the efforts of his loyal Gen Y-dominated workforce.

“Micro-managing doesn’t work,” Sheehan says.

“It all comes down to empowering people – articulating a vision and empowering them to help you achieve it. You need to be clear about your expectations, share your goals and communicate openly.”

Muck in

Flattening the hierarchy and encouraging staff to see you’re on a journey together can also ensure they remain happy to turn up and knuckle down, week in, week out.

“I’m not into management structures – we all sit together, do the same things and eat lunch at the same table,” Sheehan says.

“Everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction. If everyone feels responsible for the result then people are far more likely to get out of bed with a spring in their step and contribute towards the goal.”

Lash out

Rewarding hard yakka with a little apres-hours fun also helps encourage staff to keep showing up with a smile, says Daniel Battaglia, the founder of Parking Made Easy, a site which enables inner-city home owners to rent out their unused parking spaces.

“I share the big vision with them constantly – and take them out for drinks and nice meals,” he says.

Make it matter

It doesn’t much matter whether your team is crunching code for the next Uber or cracking concrete on a building site – what counts most is the genuine thought and effort you put into ensuring your workplace is somewhere staff are happy to be.

“It matters to me whether people are having a good time at work or not and people really respect and respond to that,” Sheehan says.

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.

Image: Robert Scoble, Flickr Creative Commons License