Happy Employees Make The World Go Round: Why Employee Happiness Is Important In 2023
Everyone wants to be happy in one way or another. We all strive for it on a daily basis, doing what we feel will bring us the most contentment. Which is often why going to work can be a real hassle, as we feel like it gets in the way of what we really want to be doing.
As an employer, you need to be able to combat these feelings and show that the workplace can bring just as much happiness to your employees as anywhere else. By keeping employees happy in their roles and environment, you’ll be sure to see an increase in productivity, engagement, and employee retention.
But how do you know where to start?
Why Is Employee Happiness Important?
Happy workers can make a big difference to the bottom line. If people are actively striving to do their best in an environment that supports and encourages them, you’re sure to reap the benefits sooner rather than later.
Increased levels of passion, loyalty, attention, and determination can all come from increased happiness in the workplace. It’s a sure-fire way to boost employee morale, as the general outlook will become more optimistic.
Happiness also has an impact on peoples’ well-being, and studies have shown that happier people are generally more resilient, and vice versa. According to Gallup, happy employees also take fewer sick days than their unhappy counterparts.
Negatively Contributing Factors
Situations change from person to person – there may be more going on behind the scenes that contribute to why someone is unhappy. And, unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do about that.
But what you do have an impact on, is your company. So here are a few things to watch out for which can have a negative impact on employee happiness.
- Burnout is a huge contributor to unhappy employees. And the effects leave much to be desired. If people are stressed due to their workload, uninspired, or mentally exhausted, this can lead to absenteeism. Eventually, if this pattern continues, you can find yourself facing high rates of employee turnover.
- Feeling undervalued puts a massive dampener on how we view the workplace. When employees are not listened to, taken seriously, and are taken advantage of, happiness levels plummet.
- A poor work environment is not a good place either physically or mentally to be a part of. Unsanitary conditions which are uncomfortable, dirty, or the wrong temperature can have a direct impact on our health.
- Stressful managers and co-workers are a nightmare to work with. They create a toxic breeding ground for a company that stops people from doing their best, or use threatening tactics rather than encouragement to get results. Argumentative behavior, passive-aggressive comments, and unreasonable deadlines are some of the traits to watch out for!
How To Boost Employee Happiness
It’s not too hard to create happy workers who are proud to be a part of your workforce. Here are some key examples of how it’s possible to achieve happier employees.
Improve Company Culture
Your company culture is very important when it comes to employee happiness. No one wants to work for a place that has bad morals or intentions, or doesn’t care for their workers in any significant way.
A positive culture is clear to see from outside of the business as well. You’ll find that when you start investing time into building a happy, healthy culture, you will see a rise in overall customer satisfaction. Your employees will be driven to help, friendly, and passionate about what they do. Not to mention that happy people are far more approachable, which helps the customers feel at ease.
Furthermore, a good company culture will help to attract people from a wide variety of diverse backgrounds. And, when a workplace more thoroughly considers their DEIB responsibilities, studies have shown that workers develop a stronger sense of belonging. Moreover, overall production increases because people feel secure in their social group and know that their thoughts will be listened to by their peers.
Have A Good Work-Life Balance
Appreciating and supporting a healthy work-life balance can alleviate a lot of stress and increase happiness levels for employees. This helps to encourage the prioritization of a worker’s mental health and reduce levels of burnout.
Giving more employees control over their own work schedules builds a feeling of trust and autonomy. Flexibility is often more valued in a workplace than the pay, as people feel able to fit their lives around their work more suitably. This is particularly important for people with families or people they are caring for who might need more freedom in their schedules.
This is particularly pertinent in the wake of the covid pandemic and all the restrictions that followed. Many people may be shielding still, so look at what you can do to help ease the transition back to work for your employees.
The option for hybrid or remote working also cuts out a significant cost of traveling from home to work. You stop for gas less frequently, and don’t have to factor in extra costs like going out for lunch if your company doesn’t have a food-token scheme.
Another contributing factor to improved happiness is the amount of time your employees get off work. Consider the flexibility of your vacation schemes. How much time a year do people get off to be with their loved ones, completely disconnected from work? People need proper time to completely detach and relax, allowing their brains to rest and recuperate. One or two days a year for Easter or Christmas isn’t going to cut it.
Train Your Managers to be Better Leaders
Managers are there not only to make sure work gets done on time, but also to support their staff whenever they need it. It’s vital that your managers maintain a positive attitude when it comes to work, or their dissatisfaction might be taken out on their team.
On the other hand, overly passionate, bossy managers who constantly micromanage can be equally as frustrating. Good training is required to help managers accurately allocate tasks, and have enough trust in their team to get the work done without someone constantly looking over their shoulder.
Work on Team Building
A well-oiled team who works efficiently together can have a positive effect on the happiness levels of the employees involved. When team members work well together, stresses are alleviated and burdens of workload can be shared.
It’s immensely satisfying seeing a project come together. It’s even better when that happens faster than you anticipated because of good communication and teamwork.
To encourage this, try integrating team-building exercises in the form of puzzles, days out to escape rooms, or just allowing them to spend quality time together to create strong interpersonal relationships. Forbes reports that employees with a “best friend” at work are 7 times more likely to be properly engaged in their work, and their satisfaction levels are boosted by 50%.
Admittedly, this is easier with small businesses where people are already familiar with one another. However, even larger corporations can offer group days out by splitting the office into teams and having their employees engage in various team-building initiatives.
Encourage Positive Feedback
If you don’t know what you’re doing wrong, how are you ever going to succeed properly? Additionally, if all the feedback you ever get is passive-aggressive comments or criticisms, you’ll feel demoralized and unmotivated to work.
Employers should make sure that the feedback their workers receive is worthwhile and constructive. If something is the matter, don’t belittle your employees. Have a talk with them and communicate properly what the issues are, and create a plan together on how you’re going to solve them.
It’s a huge confidence boost when employees know just what they need to do in order to succeed. And you don’t have to take it all on by yourself. Consider encouraging peer reviews, giving employees the chance to interact with one another’s work and offering constructive feedback.
It shares the load, and builds essential analytical and editorial skills that means, over time, work will be delivered automatically to a higher standard as people will know what to watch out for next time.
Recognize and Appreciate
Happiness comes through acknowledgement of a job well done. If an employee has been exceptional in some way, then think about rewarding them for it. This could be:
- Praise and recognition privately in the office, or publicly on social media or a corporate website.
- Financial rewards like a bonus or gift card.
- Corporate perks like time off, or greater flexibility in the following days – i.e. “take the morning off tomorrow.”
Your incentives need to balance the requirements for quality and quantity. It’s all well and good meeting a quota, but if the work is subpar in some way, rushed for the sake of meeting a deadline, it won’t reflect well on your company.
Frequent, meaningful recognition is self-sustainable. The more you do it, the more people will feel encouraged to continue working hard. You give as good as you get. If you, as an employer, appreciate your employees, you’ll find that they appreciate you more as a result.
82% of workers say that they are happier when they are recognized at work. Why would you want to ignore that?
It’s not hard to do, either. Spreading a little bit of positivity each day, even through a “Well done”, or a “That’s looking good, keep it up”, takes no time at all, and perpetuates a friendlier environment.
Managing Happiness Going Forward
Once you feel as though your workforce is happy, you need to do your best to make sure they stay that way. Happiness is a very loose term that can cover many and all aspects of someone’s working life. You need to consider employee engagement and employee satisfaction – a combination of the two will lead to elevated happiness. People will be actively trying to do their best for your company, because they like to work there and want it to succeed.
Keep on top of job satisfaction levels through surveys. These are easy to find or produce, and take minimal effort on the part of the employee. They’ll let you see which areas people are most dissatisfied in, which can lead to lowered happiness.
Additionally, make sure you have a strong human resources committee. This should be a place where both employers and employees alike can turn to in times of need. HR isn’t just damage control for when things go south: they are there in the first place to stop that from happening. So make this department as welcoming and well-structured as possible and thoroughly in-line with your business’s core values to make sure complaints are dealt with swiftly and correctly.
An open suggestions box can help manage happiness levels, as you can see what the most requested changes are. Whether that’s a better break room, more financial subsidies for food, or better environmental conditions, these are important things to be aware of. By giving your employees a voice and acting on their concerns, it shows you care about what they have to say.
Finally, performance reviews will allow you to keep on top of who may need additional help. Frequent employee metrics that are gathered several times a year at the least can begin to create a chart of how productivity can rise or fall. If someone you know to be a good worker has begun to slip, don’t punish them for it without cause. Instead, talk to them to see what the problem may be.
Happiness shouldn’t be a hurdle, but a goal. Every small thing you do in the workplace will impact an employee’s mood in one way or another, and it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time. But actively striving to make your work environment a more open, enjoyable place to be in will never not be worth it.
Employees who look back fondly on where they used to work talk about the people there who made every day a laugh. The perks, the benefits, the things that made their life easier and allowed them to focus 100% on their work. The managers who supported them and listened in times of crisis.
By valuing the happiness that your staff get from your company, you’re sure to find people saying that you are a Most Loved Workplace ®.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.