Long gone are the days when the term employee happiness was not given any vital importance. However, now it has become important that employees remain happy. Happy employees amount to better productivity, better motivation and a better corporate culture.
Making your employees happy isn’t a rocket science. Particularly increasing trends suggest that companies with better workplace culture, such as Google, attract the top talents. Usually, because the perks of working there are tremendous. These perks instill a sense of belonging in the employees. Because when employees see that their well being is given a priority, it inspires their loyalty. Thus, it results in them performing their very best.
The Pursuit Of Employee Happiness
Here’s an example of how Netflix shows some love for their employees. At Netflix, the employees who become new parents get a year of paid leave. This establishes that Netflix actually cares about their employees. Consequently, Netflix employees wouldn’t mind going the extra mile to help achieve the company objectives. Take into account the words of the brilliant Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba:
“Always let your employees come to work with a smile”
To ensure your organization’s success, it is important that you acknowledge your employees’ happiness quota.
However, the million dollar question remains.
How do you go on about achieving something as abstract as happiness?
Happiness is subjective. Certainly, it is not measurable on a simple scale. Furthermore, the factors affecting happiness are debatable and variable. Even if you provide world-class facilities, results may differ. So, it might inspire some people to work harder. However, others might have a bad experience in a similar scenario.
Therefore, it is better to be aware of the various factors that come into play to ensure happiness at work. By only focusing on a single factor is doomed to fail. Every workplace is unique and will respond to different factors. Your best bet is to experiment with multiple factors. Find out the formula that will work the best for your organization.
Employee Happiness Improves Corporate Dynamics
Recently, Fortune published a list of “100 best companies to work for“. The ranking of a good workplace culture takes into account these five basic aspects :
Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride, and Camaraderie.
These five aspects are the main factors which determine the level of employee happiness. Does your organization try to enforce it?
If yes, then good for you! Seems like, you are going in the right direction.
However, if not then don’t worry. These are pretty simple concepts and easily achievable.
Your relationship with your employees plays a crucial part. Harvard Business Review published an article about why good companies continue to fail. The most noteworthy is how Apple Computers faced one of their biggest hurdles:
Imposing the necessary discipline, however, ran counter to the Apple culture, and top management found itself frustrated whenever it tried to exert more control. The engineers simply refused to change their ways. The relationships with creative employees that enabled Apple’s early growth ultimately hindered it from responding to environmental changes.
You might be the most brilliant boss alive. Also, your company ideology might be as close to perfect as it gets. However, none of it matters if your own employees aren’t invested emotionally. Feelings of unhappiness will result in decreased productivity and quality of work.
The good news is that you can help prevent such negative situations. Before looking for ways to increase profits, think of ways to boost employee happiness.
Let’s have a look at what each of the five aspects requires and how do they act in boosting employee happiness at work.
Credibility is the bona fide way for your company to become a future market leader. It is synonymous to the respect it invokes in people. To say that your company is “credible” is to say that your company is trustworthy. However, the bottom line is that to establish your trustworthiness as a company you need to pull out the big guns. So if you are thinking that by only establishing a loyal customer base your job is over then you are mistaken. To establish credibility as a company, you need to cover a lot of ground.
Your employees know your company better than most. They have knowledge about the products. Usually, they know about the inner workings of your organization. If your employees don’t believe in the efficiency of your product, hardly anyone else will. What’s better than to build credibility by starting from your very own employees?
1. Acknowledge Efforts
I can’t stress the importance of this point enough.
If your employee has done a good job then appreciate them. Does your team members have good work ethics? Then show that it matters. Thus, make them aware that you understand the work that they are doing is significant.
Like it or not your employees do need some kind of validation from you. Make use of this feature as it is the ultimate silver lining. One of the major reason why people end up hating their job is that they have an “unreasonable boss”. Don’t be that reason. Or that boss.
Your employees spend their time and energy in fulfilling your company objectives. Otherwise, verbal recognition could only go so far in keeping your employees happy.
Thereby, having a well-implemented reward based system is the magic solution that you need.
Having an occasional reward system will make your employees love their jobs. Trust me, you don’t want to have an unhappy employee at your hands. You would want to show your employees that their contributions matter.
An occasional reward based system enforces positive psychology among employees. The right combination of employee recognition and a reward system has indefinite benefits. It encourages healthy competition among team members. As a result, it pushes them to do better. Having some sort of prize to look forward to is a sure free way of greeting work with enthusiasm.
3. Be Sensitive
The sooner you realize that your employees are human beings the better it is for you. You might think that I am stating the most obvious of facts but, please, do hear me out.
You very well might be able to function on 3 hours of sleep and be available to work at holidays. This doesn’t mean that you can expect the same from your employees. The one thing every employee seeks is to be able to strike a perfect work-life balance. Do remain attuned to your employees’ problems. Seek out ways on how you can make their lives easier.
Does any of your employees suffer from any health problems? Offer health insurance and paid leaves.
Generally, do the women employees feel unsafe while returning home? Offer cab service.
Is there any issue in the workplace that is making an employee worry? Take out a moment to listen to them.
Ensuring your employee’s happiness is one of your foremost goals. Thus, by showing that you care about your employees will prove to be the biggest USP in establishing your credibility.
If you have seen the Amazing Spider-Man 2, you must know about its villain Electro. Electro destroyed the entire Times-Square in a fit of rage. It was because he wasn’t respected by anyone including by Spider-Man.
I am not indicating that by not respecting your employees, they will turn into villains. But the possibility is high enough. A downtrodden employee will hardly consider himself happy. Your company should be able to give an assurance of dignity at work.
Every person that you meet in your corporate career will have a role to play in its advancement. Never make the mistake of assuming that respect is something to be given out selectively. Respect everyone you meet. Take a leaf out of Mark Zuckerberg’s book, who is regarded as one of the best bosses to have. A Facebook employee describes on Quora about why Zuckerberg is an employee favorite.
When I walked into Hack Square, Zuck was talking to someone else but he turned to me and said “congratulations”. I was so surprised that I said:**“thank you”. Looking back, I think he was actually the one we all should have congratulated but I am so touched by the congrats he gave me (again, an average engineer) first.
On a personal note, my previous job did pay very well. But respect was something that was given out quiet grudgingly. It became my principal reason for quitting that job.
According to research done by The Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM):
Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels was rated as “very important” by 72% of employees in 2014, making it the top contributor to overall employee job satisfaction.
So, if you want to cultivate workplace happiness then start by respecting your employees.
As a leader, you should take care not to show any kind of favoritism. The act of playing favorites will create a sense of resentment among your employees. Maybe, that you have a favorite employee (we all do). However, to present a particular employee with extra advantages is unfair. It will lead others to question your leadership. Hence, endorse a workplace culture where equal treatment becomes a norm.
Fortune highlighted a rather interesting case in one of its articles:
Take Hilcorp, the Houston-based oil, and gas company that doled out $100,000 bonus checks after it met some daunting five-year financial goals. In December the company’s president, Greg Lalicker, defended spreading the wealth as crucial to the company’s success: “In order to create better alignment across all employees, our bonus structure treats everyone equally. We have a culture that we are all in this together.”
By deciding to award every employee with an equal bonus Hilcorp expressed how the contribution of each employee helped in its success. It assured their employees that they didn’t play favorites.
Act nice. Play fair.
If you are still unclear about how to foster a fair workplace culture; don’t worry, I got you covered. Here are a few ways through which you can keep it in check:
1. Fair Compensation
None of your employees are working for free. Consequently, for offering their service and investing their time, fair compensation is a must.
Usually, if they worked overtime, pay them for it.
Particularly, if their service helped in the growth of your company, give out bonuses.
Likewise, if a team completed a project, show your appreciation by giving out rewards.
If, both, male and female employees are doing a similar job, don’t underpay your female employees.
2. Fair Promotions
It doesn’t matter whether you like an employee or not but if she is deserving of a promotion, give her a promotion. Bypassing a deserving employee of a well-deserved accolade will garner ill-will.
To establish yourself as a trustworthy leader, you should keep personal feelings aside. As a rule, act rationally.
Establish a transparent system where the process of giving out promotions becomes evident. Maintain a standard of conduct which employees can follow to further their career. Give out promotions in due time.
3. Address Problem Areas
No workplace is perfect and nor will it ever be. Your employees will have their own set of problems. They might genuinely feel that their rights as an employee are being violated. It might either be because of a collective dispute or an individual problem. An employee troubled by workplace problems will tend to be less productive.
Address this issue by making your employees feel comfortable about airing their grievances. Don’t turn their problems into something inconsequential.
Listen to them. Present a fair system for solving disputes among employees. Hire a company counselor to combat stress or frustration in employees. Make them believe that their mental well-being matters to you.
Imagine this scenario.
You meet a complete stranger and ask them where do they work. They answer you with the name of some “XYZ Company”.
Notice their tone of voice. Do they mumble the name? Or do they say it with a certain degree of pride?
Next, ask them whether they are happy working at their company. Chances are pretty high that the mumblers are not satisfied with their jobs.
Employees happiness is greatly linked to their sense of pride in the workplace. If your employees are proud of working at your company, mentally pat yourself on the back. It means you are doing a great job!
- Especially, try to instill a sense of accomplishment within them. Feelings of negativity that may arise in the employees are to be expected. Work pressure and stress may be contributing factors.
- Maybe, conduct motivational seminars. Show your employees that their work has helped in the positive growth of your company. Thereby, publicly acknowledge their good performance.
- Likewise, have frequent meetings with your employees. As their leader, you need to connect with them. Your praise and validation will go a long way to increase their morale. When your employees see that their boss actually cares about their opinions, it is bound to develop their sense of pride.
- Also, offer rewards occasionally and accordingly.
- Entrust employees with new responsibilities. It will make employees harbor a feeling of importance and pride in their work. Show that you trust them.
- Consequently, place value to your employees’ viewpoints. Make it easier for your employees to discuss any new ideas or proposals. Conduct brainstorming sessions. Take into account their ideas and go through the process of implementing those ideas. Discuss why those ideas may or may not work.
Camaraderie, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as:
“a feeling of friendliness towards people that you work or share an experience with”
Thus, camaraderie works as an incredible booster for increasing the level of employee engagement. In short, camaraderie is the age-old human tradition of socializing. Much like wolves, humans work better as a pack or group. Because we are highly social creatures. Thus, regular social interactions foster our mental well being.
The sight of employees, huddled around and gossiping, must be a common sight across all the offices in the world. Thereby, some innovative manager must have had an idea to ban such kinds of interactions.
If you are having the same idea, don’t. Stow this idea in your mental trash can. Harvard Business Review discussed how camaraderie affects workplace culture:
Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
Here are a few reasons why workplace camaraderie should be encouraged:
- Encourages employees to develop and work better as a team.
- For the reason, that being around friends creates a better workplace environment.
- A fun workplace environment reduces stress and results in better performance.
- Employees look forward to coming back to work.
- Above all, it promotes a strong emotional support network.
Hence, to help in developing a friendly workplace environment you can opt for the following ways:
1. Organizing Social Activities
It can be anything from an annual picnic or can be a cultural night. Accordingly, incorporate social events that encourage interactions among the employees.
2. Improve Company Culture
Encourage a company culture where everyone is free to mingle and socialize. A company culture of a blue collared job and cubicles is a big no. Avoid it, if you can.
The most successful companies understand that employees actively are looking for a fun environment. For instance, Facebook’s work culture highly encourages social interactions among their employees. One of its employees stated that
*“There’s definitely a lot of people walking around and a lot of things happening and conversations,” he said. *
“You just have every opportunity to learn from your colleagues and to collaborate.”
3. Being the Friendly Boss
An unfriendly boss can spoil the workplace environment faster than you can say “cheese”. As their leader, it is important for your employees to see you as a friend. All the great leaders know that you are better off by being among them and not by standing on a pedestal.
The idea is to make yourself seem approachable and not into someone intimidating.
To summarize, happiness in the workplace is a major factor contributing to employee engagement. Try to promote a happy workplace culture. In particular, being mindful of your employees’ happiness is the first step to take. Look for ways on how you can boost it. It can be as simple as looking to improve upon the five given aspects. i.e. credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. Aim to develop a free, happy and positive workplace culture. You will observe, how in the long run, this will be one of your best investments.
Decoding and Driving Employee Engagement