As we all know, great companies hire great people. But just staffing your business with brilliant hires doesn’t guarantee success if workers aren’t supported by an environment that nurtures workers and challenges them without laying on the fear. However, according to an article from Forbes, many modern workers do suffer from fear in the workplace– and fear and uncertainty in the office can damage productivity and innovation. As studies have shown, happy workers are more productive and can give business a great boost. But fear and happiness can be exclusive emotions, and in a recent survey, only 3% of employees consider themselves “fearless.”As stated in Forbes, “an employee who feels supported and appreciated is more willing to devote his or her full energy, creativity and passion to the company and its goals, and will naturally innovate. Employees who are afraid of something or someone in the organization will naturally close up to protect themselves, and will no longer perform at full capacity.” So what are employees so afraid of? According to the article, employees are afraid of making mistakes, being fired, dealing with difficult customers or clients, having conflict with a manager or co-workers, and group speaking. With those fears in mind, how can employers empower their employees to move beyond fear and into innovation? Three key shifts are suggested within an organizational paradigm to imbue employees with confidence: 1. Trust – Instead of giving employees power to do things, focus on building trust. Simply allowing an employee to perform certain tasks isn’t enough: the equation is the concept that they are giving employees something they also have the power to take away. A leader who truly trusts their people knows that employees already have the power they need within them, and trusts them to use it honorably and well. 2. Switch from policies to principles. Instead of having employees conform to rigid company policies, drive your employees to create their own solutions and adapt to new situations by giving them guiding principles to operate around. This lessens employee fear about the possibility of making a mistake. 3. Allow for some trial-and-error. True innovation comes from experimentation; allowing employees the opportunity to try (and fail) at new things gives them room to exercise their creativity. Many employees value and even treasure the resulting chances to make a mistake; through their mistakes they create the genesis for miraculous outcomes. We think these tips are great ideas for every company to implement to encourage employees to grow and experiment in their jobs. And, after all, there’s the old adage: “happy employees make productive employees.” This has been cited across the net in various studies as well, with various articles stating that happy employees are 50% more motivated, work better with others (thus reducing the fear of conflict), and make better decisions. Every company can benefit from boosting the happiness of its employees, so even if you hire only the best workers for your company, make sure you’re getting the most out of them and that they’re getting the most out of their time with you. Don’t let them feel fear– think happy!