The benefits of happy employees are well documented, but making (and keeping) people happy is easier said than done. So how do you make employees happy without having to resort to financial means?

Below are 8 easy ways to boost employee happiness without spending a dime

1. Stop promoting individual contributors to manager

According to management consultants Gallup, only 10 % of working people possess the ability to be a great manager – and many don’t enjoy the position as much as you’d assume.

Top performers shouldn’t necessarily be promoted to manager as a way of encouragement or reward: in fact, it very often has the opposite effect.

It’s called the Peter Principle, and it’s an issue that many companies fail to recognise. Not only does the promotion pull these individuals out of the role they enjoy and are good at, but it means that their new teams are likely to be unhappy with the situation as well.

If your company views promotions to managerial status a reward, you might want to think again. Rather consider the individual in question and think of a way to thank them for their contribution in a way that’s uniquely suited to their preferences and skills.

2. Give employees working hour flexibility

Flexible working hours have been voted as the one perk employees desire above all others.

Many companies have introduced flexi-hours (we’re one of them) and it’s been estimated that the numbers are growing steadily.

The good news is that both employees and employers benefit from this arrangement and that studies have found that allowing employees to choose the hours they work has no negative impact on their productivity.

What’s more, countless reports have demonstrated that those who give employees flexi-time enjoy an uptick in employee retention and are able to attract better candidates.

3. Reduce the time they spend commuting

If you can’t go full flexi hours, it’s worth looking into adjusting your day’s start and end time to allow employees to avoid rush-hour commutes.

Not only does this save employees time, studies have also linked reduced commutes with reduced stress levels and happier individuals.

4. Give people a say (survey)

Employees who are asked for their opinion and given a chance to raise concerns are happier than employees who have no set system to do so.

Sociologists say that even a basic happiness survey can go a long way to improving the overall satisfaction levels in the office. For employees, simply knowing your voice has been heard promotes a feeling of being valued and helps soothe grievances.

Employee engagement experts Tiny Pulse recommend giving small surveys regularly, rather than big ones only a few times a year. In addition, you also need to acknowledge any problems that employees highlight – even if it’s difficult or impossible to solve them.

Letting people know that you’re paying attention to their issues is the main focus; solving them is a bonus.

5. Get employee buy-in on goals and KPIs

Psychologists say that well-defined goals provide employees with a greater sense of purpose and HR professionals know that people with a greater sense of purpose report better satisfaction levels at work.

It goes without saying that working toward clear goals and targets is good for the business, so why not capitalise on this win-win situation?

It’s important to note, however, that handing someone a set of goals to work toward won’t be as effective as getting their buy-in and defining the goals together.

Allowing employees to have a say in what their work goals and KPIs gives them a sense of autonomy in their overall work, which promotes a long-term happiness and – studies show –  better health and a longer lifespan.  

6. Take your company culture seriously

A good company culture is something you need to work at and maintain. Negative habits and poor vibes can creep in – especially in times of company growth and expansion.

For a company to have and maintain a good culture,  a conscious effort needs to be made to to define and nurture that overarching values. We’ve put a lot of effort into ours: here’s how we make it work.

7. Help employees see the benefits of their work

Often, employees don’t get to see how their small contribution fits into the bigger picture, but research consistently shows that people must see the big picture in order to appreciate and find meaning in the work they do each day.

Employee engagement expert Sheila Magolis says it’s imperative to show employees how their daily activities – no matter how small – contribute to the organization’s overarching purpose and goals.

Giving people a clear view of the ‘why’ in their work not only enhances performance, but also improves employee loyalty and boosts happiness.

8. Make a small change

That old adage about change being as good as a holiday really is true: behavioral psychologists say that small changes in routine will boost moral in groups organisations with relatively little input.

These changes can be as simple as changing the way the office is laid out, adjusting the structure of a long and boring meeting, or allowing a temporary re-shuffle of groups people typically work in.

Research shows that provided the change isn’t actually bad (i.e, the result can even be neutral), you’ll see a short-term spike in engagement levels and enthusiasm.


So you see, with a little thought and effort, keeping your employees happy on a budget is easier than you might think. Use these 8 tips to boost morale in your office and enjoy the many, many benefits that come from happy people and a healthy culture.

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About Steph Von der Heyde

Our resident wordsmith’s love of digital lured her over from advertising to the online space, where she fell in love with content marketing. Since coming to the online world Steph has made her mark on all outgoing CleverClicks copy and is passionate about using words to build brands. Her obsession with the writing is rivaled only by her love of trail running, yoga and green juice. When she’s not submerged in content strategy you’ll find Steph in Downward Dog.

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