Did you know that happier workers help their colleagues 33% more often than unhappy ones? Happy employees also achieve their goals 31% more often, and are 36% more motivated in their work. This is according to joint research from the Wall Street Journal and iOpener Institute.
Employee happiness has become an important and growing business concern over the past few years, as more and more companies recognize the benefits of having not just satisfied and engaged employees—but also employees who are happy and in good moods. Health, safety, productivity, absenteeism, customer service, profitability—it seems there is not a business metric out there that is not impacted by how happy your people are.
Here are 5 things to consider as you try to build a happier workforce in your organization:
1. Offer Meaning and Alignment
People want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves—whether it is the team, the company or the community at large. Some employees actively search for companies that have strong values and give back to society. For many employees meaning is as simple as a desire to be aligned with the company goals and mission, and to feel like a valued member of a team. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta found that companies who focused employees on the meaning and purpose in their work experienced a 60% drop in absenteeism and a 75% reduction in turnover.
2. Provide Opportunities for Success and Personal Growth
According to recent research by SHRM, growth and professional development is among the top demands of job seekers in the U.S. labor force. Likewise, a CornerstoneOnDemand claims that one of leading causes of employee dissatisfaction and turnover is a feeling of stagnation or a disconnect with company goals. That study also reports that in the past year, only 1/3 of employees have received training and development opportunities, and two-thirds of employees aren’t receiving adequate feedback or recognition. As Eric Mosley writes in The Crowdsourced Performance Review:
“Think about those intense work times when the team is all pulling together and its total focus on creating something amazing keeps team members working after midnight. A lot of those happiness boxes are ticked off in those heroic times: Feeling like you’re progressing toward a goal, feeling optimistic; feeling like you’re part of something bigger than the day-to-day work; and feeling like you’re being supported and supporting others. Those are legendary times at a company, and notice that people are sustained through them, hour by hour, by the conviction and affirmation that they are making progress toward the goal. Happiness comes both from the end goal and making progress.”
3. Encourage Gratitude
For years, studies have shown that recognized employees are happier and more motivated to succeed. But a growing body of research—as well as a terrific new book by Wharton School professor Adam Grant—shows that the employees who are giving recognition and reward may be benefiting as much or more from a recognition moment than their colleagues. It turns out, giving people the opportunity to express gratitude is also amazingly good for thier health, productivity and happiness at work. In fact, our latest Mood Tracker report, which we’re currently putting together, shows that employees who are enabled to recognize one another are significantly more likely to say they are highly engaged than those who are not able to recognize one another. (More on this next month!)
4. Build Flexibility
According to Career Bliss, companies who see the biggest jumps in employee happiness are those who, among other things, emphasize great work-life balance. Research by Georgetown University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation confirms the importance of flexibility in driving worker happiness, with 80% of employees saying they would be happier with more flexible work options. Of those workers who already have flexibility at work, 90% said it eased the burden of work-life balance.
5. Create Trust
Many experts argue that one of the single biggest contributors to employee happiness is simply creating a culture of trust within your organization. This means not only your workers’ trust in leadership, but also in one another. And that trust is a two way street. A recent study conducted by Harvard University showed that enhancing trust and employee commitment creates an environment that fosters happy, committed, productive team members. “Workplaces that provide positive environments that foster interpersonal trust and quality personal relationships create the most committed and productive employees,” said Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the study. Maintain an open, multilateral dialogue within your organization, help employees to understand and contribute to the big picture, and above all, be sure that leaders are honest and accountable for decisions.
Make sure these five key components are prospering in your organization, and the dividend is sure to pay off in smiling faces and better business results.