Happiness at work has long been a hot topic of debate and various studies have been undertaken over the last few years that examine whether happiness amongst employees does indeed increase productivity as is the currently received wisdom. However, most employers do acknowledge that unhappy staff are usually far less productive and very often toxic to the business. Unhappy people will often tell ten times more people about their discontent than happy people, so decreasing unhappiness in the workplace has to be a good place to start!
Anxiety, depression, problems at home, loss of purpose, listlessness, feeling unfulfilled, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, excessive wright gain and serious illness are all human states that often cause unhappiness and organisations that have an HR function that helps their employees to address these issues are, at least, showing an interest in the wellbeing of their most valuable asset - their staff.
As we have featured in other articles, employee happiness is so often about self-worth amongst friends and peers. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the "dinner party response"? In this scenario, we imagine sitting next to an attractive stranger at a dinner party who politely asks you: "So, what do you do for a living…?" The reply to this question speaks volumes about your self-worth, your perceived value to your organisation, your measurable results that you have achieved, and your relationship with your colleagues. Status and recognition is still very important to a lot of people.
In surveys, those employees in management, white colour, team-based jobs have consistently scored themselves often as much as 30% "happier" than corresponding employees in blue colour, repetitive, factory-style jobs. So what were some of the key reasons given for this wide discrepancy?
- In general terms, the former are more autonomous at work. They are empowered to create their own daily structure and trusted to achieve the desired results.
- They are not micro managed but supported by a management system where they enjoy the relationship with their own line manager and their own team of subordinates.
- In an ideal world, they are engaged with both their organisation and its goals and they are genuinely proud when telling people that they are part of their brand.
- They have a good work/life balance and enjoy social activities outside the office.
- They bond with their workmates and enjoy the occasional team curry or night at the bowling alley.
- They have a feeling of job security and a career path where their higher performance will be rewarded.
- Their bosses have been trained in how to manage and motivate their teams.
- They have been trained in how to perform their roles better.
- They work hard because they know they make a difference and feel that they are an important cog in the overall corporate machine.
- They have the flexibility to work from home occasionally but also have their own desk in the workplace and a defined role within a team structure.
- The physical environment in which they work is appealing, efficient, tidy and professional.
- They have customer contact and they see their customers genuinely benefiting or enjoying the output of their labours.
- Their spouse or partner has met their colleagues or bosses and she or he also approves of and understands the importance of the business.
- They take regular holidays and enjoy benefits in kind that show the company cares about them as individuals such as healthcare and sponsored training opportunities.
- They stay longer in the organisation and are more likely to progress through the ranks keeping their valuable knowledge and acquired experience within the business.
To some organisations, looking to meet the above fifteen points may sound expensive to achieve. However, when compared with the cost of falling productivity, massive staff churn, negative PR, loss of customers, difficulty in attracting top talent and the time and money lost replacing key staff members, spending some serious time thinking about to improve staff happiness is worth every penny!
If you are looking to grow your business, call us for a chat on 01793 762026 or email Jackie and her team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.