There are two main factors that lead to happiness and joy in the workplace (and in life). The first is being appreciated and valued and respected. The second is being listened to and having input.
Both of these are all about communication – not surprisingly.
People want to know they are making a difference. Compliment them and show respect often. Words of affirmation. When they do something well or they have a win in life speak up and let them know that you noticed and that you are lucky to have them.
The second part is ask for input. Even if you already have a plan and you don’t need their consultation remember that people long to be listened to. People want to be heard. So listen. Ask them once every few weeks in a very sincere way how things are going with life. Put your hand on their shoulder and tell them “listen I am not on the ground as much anymore. You are on the front lines with our customers and delivering our service which is the most important job. Have you noticed anything out there? Do you think we are still doing the right things and thinking the right way as a business? Is there anything you would recommend we try to change to be more efficient? Think about this and bring it up to me if so. “
You will be really surprised what kind of input you get back and how valuable it is. Most importantly you will learn a lot about your employee and the way they think. You will learn if they are the type of person who you want to keep around or if there is another job or area of the company they would be better at.
This is a great way to get your employee, wether they make $15 or $100 per hour, to buy in to the company and begin to care about you and your bottom line. They will instantly feel like they have some responsibility for what happens. They will feel valued and heard and like they have some responsibility over the trajectory of the company.
This communication is really what creates a culture. If you show respect for your employees it creates culture. If you compliment your employees it creates culture. If let them know you are listening to them it creates culture. Culture isn’t about ping pong tables and beer kegs in the office. Culture is about how people are treated. Culture is about how people are feeling when they are doing what they do all day.
Focus on it because its important!
Side note: Remember to maintain authority and make it clear that you aren’t opening up the flood gates to freelancing and doing whatever they want. You are still the boss. You still make the calls. You aren’t their buddy to goof around with and you require respect.