Career What Can Managers Do to Raise the Happiness Dividend among Employees?
Having happy employees is good for business, as it raises sales by 37%, productivity by 31% and task accuracy by 90% according to academics at the Harvard Business Review. Despite this fact, Mercer’s “What’s Working” survey showed that around 85% of Americans are unsatisfied in their current jobs, with top causes including lack of opportunity for growth and progression, being overworked, receiving little feedback and recognition, and having little discretion to make decisions. How can bosses improve happiness and motivation, leading their teams and achieving a myriad of goals along the way?
Creating a Safe Space
Before workers can feel joyful at work, they need to have the basics covered. These include having a safe workplace; one in which there are structural and procedural protections set up to avoid accidents, injuries, and other traumas. As stated by workplace safety experts at JJS Law, catastrophic injuries “can forever change victims’ and their families’ lives. They often require costly ongoing medical care and can have a significant impact on a victim’s emotional state, ability to work, and quality of life.” Offices should also be ergonomic, possess good air quality, comfortable furniture, and plenty of natural light.
After a few years in the same company, workers can feel stuck if they are not encouraged to broaden their knowledge through continuous learning opportunities. The benefits of employee training and development include a 59% lower rate of staff turnover, greater employee empowerment, and enhanced engagement. When managers encourage staff to grow, they essentially help employees feel like part of a ‘family,’ each of which has new and valid contributions to make. Continual training can also keep a company at the top of its game by narrowing the skills gap and keeping staff on top of digital developments.
Feedback and Recognition
Around four out of 10 employees disengage when they do not receive feedback. Of course, feedback shouldn’t simply flow in one direction. Employees should also be able to give their honest opinion when asked about a procedural or role change, without fearing the consequences of disagreeing with a manager’s suggestions. The success of feedback ultimately depends on the extent to which employees authentically respect and trust their managers. Part of earning this trust involves taking a non-offensive stance to employee suggestions and giving them due recognition for excellent ideas and hard work.
Those who manage teams (large and small) can sometimes lose track of roles and procedures, even though goals can be crystal clear. It is important for communication to flow well between staff and managers, so that useful changes to procedure can be made by employees. Trusted employees should ideally have discretion when it comes to getting their job done, provided that proposed changes enhance or, at the very least, do not interfere with goals. Discretion can extend to aspects such as flexibility and remote work. With studies showing that many employees greatly value working from home, savvy managers can study the extent to which permitting this arrangement can actually enhance the flow and quality of work.
Keeping employees happy and productive isn’t rocket science. Despite research indicating that happy employees are more productive, many basic flaws still exist in American workplaces — including lack of feedback, discretion, and recognition. Employees who feel that they are growing alongside the company and contributing to refining its procedures also feel more empowered. This is food for thought for results-oriented managers.