Happy worker bees make for a smoother operation. They fulfill their respective roles because they have a sense of the impact they can make as a group — and as individuals. The more they feel connected to others, the better it is for the company’s bottom line, says Brennan McEachran, CEO and co-founder of software program SoapBox Innovations, in Toronto.

“Every human strives for a connection. They may find that connection in their office or team, they may not,” he says.

One of the aims of SoapBox is to increase meaningful connections between employees. The program can be used on any web platform or with a mobile app. It collects, filters and sorts employee comments on possible improvements to company practices, such as how to improve revenue. It then provides opportunities for other employees to vote and comment on the submitted ideas. When an idea receives a minimum number of votes, it is flagged for broader evaluation by those with the authority to make the change. In this way, the feedback submitted by employees at all levels can generate ideas that would otherwise be lost or ignored.

Here are some steps you can take to foster a happier workplace:

1. Flatten the organization
Corporations with a long chain of command can sometimes slow the flow of information, to the frustration of lower-ranking employees. Without altering the management structure, organizations can give employees a direct channel for feedback to the top.

“Flatten it from a mental standpoint, shrink the gap between you and your team leaders,” says McEachran. “Give these people a way to have an impact in a socially acceptable way.”

Having a way for employees to suggest changes to their work process can engender a more collaborative culture, McEachran adds. It goes beyond the lifespan of an engagement survey, which can be limited to a single review and appear one-sided.

2. Create multiple feedback loops
Front-line employees and managers can hold discussions, where they can exchange ideas and offer feedback, says McEachran. Open up conversations on a variety of issues, so people can weigh in and build on the suggestions of others.

“The more feedback loops your organization has, the faster you’re able to move and get to the outcomes you want,” he says.

The idea behind having many feedback loops is to keep people informed — so no one is blindsided when changes are adopted, he says.

3. Share best practices
Within large organizations, it can be hard for people to experience a shared culture. Those in remote areas may feel isolated, or have become indifferent to feeling connected. But if you provide a platform for people across different locations to connect, ideas can proliferate and be improved upon.

“[They] might really benefit from some of the best practices being uncovered in high-volume places,” says McEachran.

4. Allow for autonomy
Micromanaged employees tend to feel stifled, whereas if you give them a degree of control over their work, says McEachran, they become invested in the outcome. At the same time, it makes them feel more accountable for their contributions.

“It starts giving employees a sense of meaning, purpose and how they fit together,” says McEachran. “They’re less likely to ask, ‘Why do we have to go do this?’ “

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