The secret to happy employees

The secret to happy employees

Identify employees' job-related needs and then make their jobs so satisfying they'll really want to do their very best.
May 01, 2006

The goal: As Bob Townsend, former CEO of Avis Rent A Car System LLC, has said, "Create the kind of environment that pays people to bring their brains to work." The more you identify and address employees' job-related needs, the more likely they'll engage in what psychologists call "motivated behavior."

Of course, no two people have the same needs or priorities. A single parent with young children, for example, may have different job-related needs than a person from a two wage-earner household. Here are ways to identify needs.

• Use job interviews to explore applicants' needs. Sample questions: What did you like most about your last job? Least? What are you looking for in your next job? This will help you decide whether your practice can provide a satisfying work environment for the applicant. Then provide a written job description so you're both talking about the same job.

• Ask current employees questions, too. Put questions in writing and give team members time to contemplate their answers. Offer a one-on-one meeting to discuss the results. Possible questions: What, if anything, frustrates you about your job? Are there additional things you'd like to be doing?

• Conduct performance reviews. A more formal venue lets you explore employees' job-related needs in more depth. Use this opportunity to talk about how the person will grow in the future and not just about their past performance.

Bob Levoy
Reality check: If you think asking for employee feedback will just open a big can of worms, you're deceiving yourself. Problems affecting staff morale and motivation that aren't discussed don't dissipate. If anything, they intensify.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a seminar speaker based in Roslyn, N.Y., and the author of 101 Secrets of a High-Performance Veterinary Practice (Veterinary Medicine Publishing Co., 1996).