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Practice Management > Building Your Business

4 Ways to Build a Happier Firm Culture

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Happy employees are much better employees. Data confirming the correlation between a happy workforce and productivity can be found in many industries across the globe.

As we’ve seen in many of the advisory firms we consult for, happy employees not only perform better, contribute more and reduce turnover, the firms they work for are more successful, too.

Happy people are more energetic, productive, healthier and, well, happier. Plus, they really make a difference; research has fund we have far greater control over others’ happiness in some respects than was once thought.

How can you improve overall employee happiness for the benefit of your employees and your firm?

Actually, it’s surprising how little it takes to increase overall employee happiness within your firm’s culture. And the good news is, none of it takes money.

Begin with these four small actions, and your culture should soon transform into a much happier place to work:

1. Know that gratitude moves mountains.

A simple thank you goes a long way in increasing employee productivity. When you are leading a firm, it’s easy to see what people are doing wrong. Look deeper at what people are doing right and offer encouragement that puts the attention on employee strengths.

Think about it this way — if you are focusing on your employee’s weaknesses, they will spend their time trying to improve in those areas. Be grateful for their strengths, and they will get stronger overall.

2. Reduce stress within your culture.

A prominent symptom of an unhappy culture is stress.

Unfortunately, almost all stress is created from leadership wanting to do too much, with few resources and under a timeline that is unrealistic.

Having realistic expectations of your employees begins with knowing them — truly knowing them.

Reducing stress begins with giving your people a platform to be heard. This will allow them to express what they feel is possible to accomplish in your timeline.

3. Ask for help.

One of the hardest things for me to tackle is the propensity of advisory firm leaders to try to do everything themselves. I get it  we all want to be the hero.

But when it comes to your employees, many genuinely want to help you. The problem is, if you tend to just get it done yourself, there are few opportunities for people to contribute to the overall success of the firm.

If you first ask for help, you’ll find people are much happier when they are helping someone else, as apposed to focusing solely on themselves.

4. Acknowledge emotions.

Employees are not machines and therefore, we cannot eliminate emotions from business culture. We must respond to our colleagues’ feelings.

Leaders can be defensive about the negative emotions expressed by their employees. Instead, respond by acknowledging these negative emotions. Often the best response is, “I see you’re upset. How can I help you?”

When you acknowledge a negative emotion, which are quite common, you can transform it into a positive experience.