5 Ways To Gauge How Happy Your Hourly Workers Are

A happier employee is a better employee, but sometimes it’s not that easy to tell. As a manager, it is important to gauge your employees’ happiness before they create problems or quit, but it is rare that an employee will tell you in plain words that they are unhappy in the workplace. Here are five ways to gauge how happy your hourly workers are so you can create a happier workplace:

Distribute an anonymous survey.

Start distributing a regular (yearly, quarterly, monthly, etc.) anonymous survey to gauge your employees’ happiness so that they have a chance to present their true feelings without worrying whether your attitude will negatively change toward them. If you use this method consider open-ended questions such as:

  • What do you like best about working for this company?
  • How can I make this a better work environment for you?
  • Which of your skills and abilities do you feel are being utilized well in your position?
  • Which of your skills and abilities do you feel are being overlooked in this position?

You can also have them give a number on a scale from 1-5 as an answer to questions such as “How likely would you recommend this job to a friend?” or “How well do you feel your thoughts/opinions/suggestions are heard?” Be ready to respond to these answers and keep in mind that they may be harsher than you expected. The important thing is that you are using your employees’ answers to the survey to take action toward creating a better work environment, and your employees expect this of you. Make sure they know you are taking their answers to heart and then take action to create a happier workplace, even if that means starting something as simple as verbally recognizing small achievements.

Read the signs.

Learn how to become a more intuitive manager. This might not be the complete solution, but reading your employees’ non-verbal cues can give you an idea of whether or not you need to make some changes in the workplace.

  • Are your employees calling in sick often or asking for more days off than usual? Simply put: unhappy employees look for reasons not to come to work and happy employees have great attendance and might even look to pick up additional shifts. Of course, there are plenty of reasons for needing days off, but if it seems consistent, it’s a good sign your employee does not want to be there and it’s your job to figure out why.
  • Non-verbal cues. Do they appear unhappy? Are your employees smiling as they work? Do they engage in conversation or only when it is strictly necessary for work? Are they putting less effort into their appearance?
  • Pay attention to their complaints. Sometimes it’s about the job as a whole, but sometimes it is just an increase in small complaints that may or may not be crucial to their work. While you as a manager should be open and receptive to all employee complaints at all times, keep in mind that an unhappy employee is more apt to notice the smaller, negative things about their place of work as they become more and more unhappy.

Suggestion box.

Similar to the periodic survey, a suggestion box allows employees to notify management of issues or suggestions anonymously. A suggestion box is a useful tool to allow employees to notify the management of changes that need to be made as soon as they notice them, but you must be regular about checking the box and making the necessary changes.

Conduct exit interviews.

An employee leaving your business may be more honest and open to discuss potential problems in management than they would be as an employee (with their job at stake). Conducting exit interviews can not only reveal problems or distress felt commonly by your employees, but it will give you closure and help you more closely monitor your turnover rate. As always, take what you learn from an exit interview to heart (keep in mind that it might be hard for you as a manager to hear) and use that information to create an action toward creating a more positive working environment for your employees.

Don’t underestimate the power of some good ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversation.

It may be intimidating for both parties, but speaking honestly and openly is one of the most effective ways to determine your employees’ happiness. However, do not wait to have conversations with your employees until there is a problem. Create a regular “check-in” with your employees to help them see you as an approachable manager who truly cares about their happiness at your business. Depending on the size of your staff, this could be a weekly 10-minute conversation or a monthly half hour meeting. Use this time not just to ask them whether or not they are happy, but to go over what they hope to gain from their employment and how you can help them reach their goals. Take notes from each meeting to monitor progress and struggles and use that as a tool to create a schedule, policy, or assignment that works for everyone. The key is to show your employees that you respect them enough to listen to their needs in return for their respect enough to tell you how you can create a better workplace.

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