How happy are your employees? Does it really matter? The answer is contained in the UN’s World Happiness report 2013, which states very clearly that happy people at work are more productive. Happiness sounds not only like a good idea, but is also a wise investment.
We all know that when workers are unhappy, short cuts are taken and there is a very casual attitude towards customer service. Add to that poor motivation and distraction and you have a recipe for disaster.
Follow these seven simple hacks to make sure that happiness is not some touchy-feely warmth in your workplace but something much more tangible and worthwhile.
1. Concentrate on the strengths
Every worker needs to be reminded of his or her strengths and how these are contributing positively to a project. This should happen at regular intervals and especially during feedback sessions. Expand their responsibilities and duties to match these strengths on an ongoing basis so that there is a sense of progress and achievement. Weaknesses need to be addressed, but they should be seen as opportunities for acquisition of future skills through training.
2. Help workers to be more creative
Did you know that creativity is strongly connected with happiness? They both work in tandem, so creating the right creative environment will pay handsome dividends. This is what Teresa Amabile, a Harvard researcher found. How can you create an atmosphere where creativity will flourish? Here are some pointers:
- Encourage participation in problem solving and decision making.
- Reduce meetings to a minimum.
- Try not to dominate with your own ideas.
- Ensure that your workers’ goals match the company mission.
3. Keep workers fully informed
One very negative aspect of some companies is how rumors about pending cutbacks, a fall in production or other gloomy news can spread like wildfire and destroy morale. Keeping your staff informed on every aspect of the company – the good, the bad and the ugly – is the best way to avoid all these Chinese whispers. In addition, it adds to the happiness of the workers in that they will come to trust you more because you are being open with them.
4. Praise and reward
You may want to consider offering raises for employees who have achieved outstanding results. Employees sometimes rewrite their job descriptions to illustrate just how much more they are doing now in comparison with when they were first employed. Taking this into consideration as well as the costs of replacing that person with somebody who has the same skills and experience should be guiding principles in deciding what is fair. Try to avoid a gender bias when applying pay raises to your staff, and err on the side of generosity.
What really counts in the long run is the happiness of your employees, who are going to find fulfillment, job satisfaction and inspiration in the job itself.
5. Be supportive
Taking an interest in the personal lives of your employees is another wise investment. I have worked in offices where just saying good morning was forgotten! Being flexible about staff needs and being generally supportive when death and illness strike will make the workplace a much more caring and happier environment.
6. Offer flexible working hours
Take advantage of modern technology and ask your staff if they would like to work flexi hours and/or if they would consider working from home. The Workplace Flexibility 2010 Project showed very clearly that 80 percent of staff would be happier with more flexible timetabling.
Think about how the Best Buy Corporation achieved a 35 percent increase in their productivity. They introduced the ROWE (result only work plan), where employees had maximum flexibility provided their deadlines and work were delivered on schedule.
7. Help them get the work-life balance right
This balance is probably one of the best ways of all of guaranteeing that employees are happy in their work and will not seek greener pastures. Fair pay raises can help too, but the top four things are:
- Benefits and perks.
- Training and career advancement initiatives.
- Work-life balance.
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Featured photo credit: Young Happy Hour / AFGE via flickr.com