Employment numbers are up, and employee satisfaction can be too.

Employee satisfaction can survive even the toughest financial times. Making sure your employees are happy can be easy and low-cost, and will benefit employer and employee alike.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor released some promising numbers: the private sector added 159,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate was down 0.5 percent from a year ago. Although these numbers by no means signal a complete recovery, it is always good news to see people getting back to work.

With employment taking the hit it has over the past couple of years, it may have been easy for employers to devalue the need to actively keep their employees happy. Many workers were thankful just to have jobs, and even if they would have liked to look elsewhere, they were not willing to take the risk of leaving stable employment to enter the intimidating job market.

On the other hand, many employees happily weathered the storm along with their employers in the face of pay cuts and mandatory furloughs. These employees remained loyal to their employers not simply because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to find other employment, but because they were happy at their jobs despite having to share some of their employers’ financial burdens.

October’s new private sector jobs may have been created by the many small businesses that formed as a result of the recession, or they may be the result of larger businesses that are gaining confidence and hiring back some of their workforce. Either way, these businesses can learn a valuable lesson from those employees who stuck by their employers through difficult times. These are happy employees, and they are the kinds of employees that businesses want. Happy employees do stick around longer, lowering their employee’s hiring and training costs. They also come to work more often and work harder while they are there. They have a sense of common purpose with the company and feel like their employer truly values their work, which fosters creativity and the desire to make meaningful contributions.

There are many things you can do to make your employees happy, and many of them don’t even cost much. Letting your employees dress casually or work from home one day a week is a small gesture that can make a big difference from the employee’s perspective. Providing encouragement through recognition and praise can both make an employee’s day and foster future innovative thinking. If you do decide to provide your employees with additional benefits that cost the business money, look into how these expenditures may lessen your tax liability.

Overall, employee happiness can be a huge engine of productivity and success for your business. If October is a sign of things to come, many businesses will be looking for great employees who will devote years of hard work to the company. Make sure these employees are happy, and you are already a step ahead of the game.

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