Happy workers aren’t just more fun to be around, they may also be more productive according to a study by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. It found that workers who identified as happy also made 13% more calls than those who didn't claim to be happy.
This correlation may be casual, but it brings up an important topic about how businesses can create a happier work environment that’s also more productive.
Benefits of job satisfaction
We know happy employees are more productive, but is it because of the work they do? The Oxford University's Saïd Business School study didn't measure this factor, but it did find that employees weren't as happy on days of inclement weather. Happy workers also didn't work more hours, they simply got more done.
As an employer, you obviously cannot control the weather, but there are ways you can boost your staff’s levels of happiness. As a result, you may enjoy these advantages of employee satisfaction.
1. Happier customers
Employee mood is contagious. Even a friendly smile and pleasant tone can lead to a better customer engagement experience. If you want to increase customer satisfaction, aim for happier employees.
2. Productivity increases
Satisfied employees do more with their time. They see work positively, which is reflected in their output. In companies where productivity matters (such as call centers, manufacturing, or shipping), it’s simply good business sense to boost employee happiness.
3. Healthier workplace culture
What makes a business a great place to work? Most employees will answer "culture." Culture comprises many things, but you can see it the most in your workers.
Do they like it here? Are they good at what they do? Are they satisfied with their job? Consider these questions as you work to understand why employee happiness is important.
What you can do to boost employee happiness
You’re not responsible for every aspect of happiness, and it would be impractical to think you can impact every outcome for your workers. However, there are some steps you can take to enjoy the benefits of keeping employees happy.
The following approaches worked well for other managers and leaders, so which could work for you?
1. End bullying
Bullying takes many forms, from gentle teasing that just won’t stop to blatant sexual harassment. Your employee handbook should be very clear about bullying and related behavior not allowed at your workplace, as well as the consequences for those who engage in it.
The handbook must have a clear and accessible process for employees to report bullying in a manner that respects confidentiality and protects complainants from further harassment while HR hears their case.
You should also be open to hearing about bullying that isn’t the norm. While you may have an idea of what a bully looks or sounds like, it’s possible to miss harmful behavior because it doesn’t impact or offend you personally.
You can create an environment of trust and safety by reassuring your teams that you will look into and handle accusations promptly. Also, make it clear that you have zero tolerance for the type of bullying that harms company culture and makes anyone feel unsafe.
2. Create a culture of accountability and responsibility
Accountability in the workplace is crucial. It keeps everyone working on their tasks and it creates a level of ownership over their work. It also helps to prevent them from blaming others for their failures as they strive to make improvements to their projects over time.
Happy employees tend to take responsibility for their work and be proud of it. As an employer, this can lead to improved productivity and output.
But how can you create a culture of accountability? It starts with the leaders, who should serve as the model for how it’s done. When managers do something wrong, they should own up to it, apologize, and demonstrate course correction. You should also remind employees that while mistakes happen, accountability prevents those mistakes from growing into a bigger problem.
Accountability and responsibility are signs of personal and professional growth, but they also make it easier for everyone to understand expectations. Happy employees don’t have to worry about taking the heat for things they didn't do when you make it clear who is responsible for what.
3. Give each employee a path for growth and achievement
It’s easy for employees to get discouraged if they think they’ll do the same job forever. Without a promise of upward mobility, some employees may become disenchanted and only go through the motions of their job. They may meet the standards, but they may also have low job satisfaction, which could lead to more employee turnover.
What can you do to help? Start by giving each employee a customized professional development plan that starts at their time of hire and continues during their employment. You can discuss results and next steps during annual performance reviews.
Be sure to get their input on what they want to achieve during their employment. Their path may look different than peers in their department, so be open to the possibilities. This is also a good place to look into improving and personalizing your company’s professional development.
4. Provide perks that work for your unique employee pool
The days of one-size-fits-all compensation packages are over. With more employees choosing to work remotely, changing family dynamics, and health care moving to a more preventative model, employers must respond with benefits that address these needs.
Assess your benefits each year based on employee feedback, or offer more general credits toward the perks each employee sees as most valuable. You could provide flex hours to use evenly between sick days, vacation days, and personal days. Or you could offer reimbursement dollars for use with their choice of health services.
Whichever methodology you use, pay attention to what makes your employees feel cared for, and try your best to deliver.
5. Provide an outlet for feedback and let them be heard
When was the last time you really listened to your employees? When you ask for feedback, are you hearing from everyone? Or do you simply listen to the most vocal associates?
It’s important to consider any feedback you receive. Also, make it as easy as possible for employees to voice their opinions or share concerns about their workplace. This feedback should be private, too, so your employees feel safe to express their opinions without fear of retribution. This is a great place to consider how your mission to stop bullying fits into your plan.
You can also do more to make employee performance reviews matter. Provide feedback to your employees, but give them time to share their own concerns, specifically as it relates to professional development.
Do they feel challenged? Is their job fulfilling? You may struggle to get answers to these questions without asking them directly. Don’t miss out on the facetime you get during these important annual sit-downs.
6. Explore mental health resources
If your benefits package does not prioritize mental health resources, make it a priority now. Your health plans should include mental wellness coverage, but also consider additional, informal tools and support systems. These are particularly helpful for employees who may not have a mental health diagnosis.
Provide plenty of opportunities for employees to support one another, too. While you may see water cooler chatter as worthless gossip, it may be a lifeline for some workers to maintain valuable connections and move through tough times in their lives.
Assess how employees engage with each other throughout the day and reward positive encounters with more unstructured time for them to support one another. You can also regularly share new opportunities to bolster mental health, such as just-for-fun outings.
Summary: Happiness and productivity
During stressful times, it’s difficult to keep everyone happy at work. Business situations like mergers or layoffs may negatively impact your efforts to boost employee morale, which means you’ll need to work harder to reassure, encourage, and support your staff.
And it’s not just work-related stressors that matter. You can’t really know what an employee is dealing with outside the office, and it’s a delicate balance to be supportive but not intrusive. If you suspect something is affecting the employee’s happiness outside of your workplace, you may have no other recourse but to remind them of the available resources and support.
As the work landscape continues to diversify, we will see new and different ways to maintain a happy staff. Plus, what pleases one worker may not have any positive effect on another.
Focus your attention on universally appealing actions, like those we outlined above, to help retain your best and brightest. At the same time, always be ready to pivot as needed to satisfy the changing workforce.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech@Work. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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