Well, okay, you can’t really force everyone to love their job, but you can certainly create a culture and environment that nurtures and supports your employees and gives them every reason to enjoy their work.

Why should you care if they’re happy? It’s simple: Happy employees are good employees. Good employees are invested in your company’s success and their own meaningful contributions to the bottom line.

So how do you create that nurturing and supportive culture and environment? Here’s what studies report on what people say makes them love their jobs and what you can do to lead them to that happy place.

Give Them Challenging Work

People say they love work that challenges them because it keeps their minds active, teaches them new things and offers them ways to use their talents and skills to solve problems. Without challenges, employees get bored and lose interest, start putting in less effort and may soon start looking for somewhere else to work.

Even for people who are motivated to make challenges for themselves, they need the space to do it. For them, and for the ones who may need even more encouragement, make sure you provide opportunities for independent thinking, creative problem-solving and the sense of accomplishment that comes with successful outcomes.

The key to this is supervising without hovering, asking for employees’ input on tough assignments and maybe most of all, letting people take off with new ideas to see where it leads them.

Make Them Feel Connected

People spend at least half their waking hours in the workplace, and it’s not uncommon for work to consume their thoughts during most other times, as well. So, it’s no surprise that people are happiest if they’re proud of where they work and are committed to the products or services the company produces.

What you can do to make sure your employees feel connected is to keep them informed on what the company is doing and what its plans are for the future. They should not only be aware of the mission statement but be actively involved in implementing it. You should do all you can to make them know that they’re part of the company’s successes and progress, whether it’s by a newsletter, team-building activities or congenial get-togethers outside of the workplace.

Deserve Their Respect

Employees want to be able to respect the person they work for. Among the qualities they seek are bosses who inspire and serve as examples, who listen, who offer constructive feedback and who give credit where it’s due. Good bosses know how to communicate, how to resolve interpersonal issues and how to be professional and yet approachable.

Some people, they say, are born leaders. But even they can always learn a thing or two or three. What you can do to hone your leadership skills, as well as gain a deeper grasp of a range of real-world business subjects, is to go for an advanced degree online. You can qualify for an MBA without a business degree, so the fact that your undergrad major was something like chemistry or electrical engineering shouldn’t stop you. Actually, only about 34 percent of MBA candidates have business-related backgrounds, but most MBAs enjoy high-status positions where they can earn subordinates’ respect.

Let Them Know You Want Them to Succeed

No one wants to stay in the same position forever. People want to know there’s a path to promotion, and it’s up to you to lay out the steps and requirements for it. Mentoring your employees brings out the best in them, which is a win for everyone. Not every position on the org chart has another title to step up to, but there’s always a way to offer greater responsibility and acknowledgement.

Ways to let employees know you’re invested in their success is to begin an employee recognition program, offer employees tuition reimbursement for advanced education or the opportunity to attend outside seminars and conferences or bring in speakers with professional insight into your field or the specialties within it.

It doesn’t take other-worldly efforts to create an environment that contributes to happy employees. It only takes the willingness to see them as individuals with value and talents to offer, and to provide the means for that to happen.

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Ryan Kidman is a startup-investor and serial entrepreneur. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate about blogging and covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups & entrepreneurship. Follow him on twitter: @ryankhgb

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