10 Ways to Keep Employees Happy

Managing employees' happiness can feel like a game of blackjack.
Managing employees' happiness can feel like a game of blackjack.

The pull and tug of managing employees' happiness is like a game of blackjack. As the metaphorical dealers, employers carefully scrutinize what's on the table and hedge their bets accordingly. They must satisfy the bottom line while retaining the best and brightest around. At the same time, workers don't want to settle for a low hand. But demanding too much may get them axed.

Who wins after the cards are dealt? On the employee side, the Harvard Business Review wagers its chips on the upbeat crew [source: Fleischauer]. The team players who contribute cheerfully around the office have the greatest chances of surviving lay-offs.

During economic downturns, employers benefit from a drop in absenteeism, according to a study published by The Academy of Management Journal. But the odds aren't solely in favor of the bosses. Dissatisfied, disengaged workers show up more, which hurts productivity [source: Cornell University]. Also, the office stars may look to jump ship for companies that can better fulfill their needs.

Whether the Dow soars or plummets, employers bear the burden of protecting their human capital. In addition to trimming the chaff, businesses must cultivate a satisfied, engaged workforce to succeed. Job satisfaction defends against daydreams of greener pastures, and engagement propels employees to perform above and beyond baseline expectations. In return, businesses profit from markedly higher customer satisfaction, lower turnover and greater returns on investments.

The following 10 tips illustrate that making employees happy usually doesn't include dollar signs, either. Rather, it's intangible incentives that produce the concrete results.