Creative Managers Can Promote Workplace Happiness

By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms.

Here’s some good news for creative managers: Chances are, your team members like what they do. According to recent research by Robert Half design and marketing professionals report the highest levels of workplace happiness and interest in their work when compared to legal, technology, administrative, and accounting and finance professionals.

But what should you do if your design team seems less peppy than usual?

An Overview of Workplace Happiness

For managers in creative and marketing industries, having happy employees affects more than just office morale. It also has a big impact on the bottom line. Satisfied design professionals are resilient and loyal, which means reduced turnover and fewer resources spent on hiring and training. Team members who enjoy their jobs are also likely to work hard, volunteer for additional responsibility and collaborate more effectively with colleagues. What’s more, they’re less inclined to call in sick than unhappy staff.

But just what determines whether your team comes to work with a bounce in their step or a frown on their face? Although everyone has different likes and dislikes, our study found that the top driver of happiness for creative professionals is doing worthwhile work. Following close behind are feeling appreciated for what they do and interest in their assignments.

You’re not solely responsible for your employees’ workplace happiness. However, as their boss, you play a major role in their level of job satisfaction. Here are some tips for boosting your team’s emotional wellbeing.

Do’s and don’ts to improve workplace happiness

  • Do pay attention to workplace culture during the hiring process.
    If you realize a job candidate may not thrive in your environment after they start working for you, it may be too late. Aim to find new hires who are a good match for your company culture by thoroughly evaluating their interpersonal abilities before extending an offer. A candidate’s resume and portfolio may impress you, but if they can’t fit in, they won’t be happy on the job — and neither will your existing staff.
  • Don’t micromanage.
    Controlling the minutiae of your employees’ work will suffocate and discourage them. Instead, empower staff to offer up ideas and make important decisions, on their own or as a team. Many creative professionals require autonomy and individuality, so give them some slack. Remember, your role is to give guidance, support and feedback.
  • Do make roles interesting and meaningful.
    Employees who find their work worthwhile are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be happy than those who feel the job they do is “just work.” When delegating tasks, communicate not only the project details and goals, but also the initiative’s potential impact on the company or customers. What is the significance of the assignment and what role do your employees play in its success?
  • Don’t play favorites.
    Fairness and respect are important drivers of workplace happiness. Be transparent in your decision-making processes and policies involving plum assignments and promotions. You can also show respect for your team by offering competitive salaries. Check out The Creative Group 2017 Salary Guide to make sure the compensation you offer is up to par.
  • Do support employees’ passion projects.
    Encouraging staff members to pursue outside interests can boost creativity on your team. It can also aide in recruitment and retention. Consider allowing your employees to occasionally engage in non-work-related activities during business hours or organizing a show-and-tell for teammates to discuss personal projects they’re proud of.
  • Don’t underestimate your influence.
    Our survey found that the main reason professionals choose to stay with an employer — or part ways — is their relationship with the boss. So pay more than just lip service to workplace happiness. Make job satisfaction a core value of your organization. Are graphic designers perpetually overworked? Bring in freelancers. Do stressed-out employees need a more flexible schedule? Make it happen.
  • Do show your appreciation.
    Managers have a wide spectrum of options when it comes to recognizing creative staff, from writing personalized thank-you notes to hosting a catered lunch. When acknowledging a job well done, be specific. For example: “You really saved the day last week when you stayed late and put the finishing touches on the client proposal … which we won!”

Workplace happiness is essential if a creative team wants to thrive. Take steps today to increase your employees’ job satisfaction, and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty, increased productivity and happier clients.