It Pays For Workers To Be Happy

We’ve all had that job. The one that grinds you down into a husk, sending you in to a pit of despair, before, mercilessly, a better company offers you a role and you take as much holiday as you can and get out of there. They are not pleasant experiences, and can be hugely detrimental to a worker’s mental state. More than that, though, an unpleasant and stress-filled working environment can be catastrophic to the business as a whole. It does not pay to forcibly push a worker’s nose to the grindstone.

Workers now have ways of warning perspective new employees of companies that are badly run or are unpleasant to work for. Glass Door allows employees to rate their current or former employers, and an increasing number of talented people are referring to the site before making a decision on taking a role. So the worst places to work are being flagged, but on the other side of the coin, if the company looks a little dull but they have great reviews, then you could attract some brilliant new talent away from competitors, just by offering a positive workspace, and it goes without saying that the best talent make the best companies.

On top of that, you’ve got a whole host of facts showing how beneficial happiness in the workplace can be. Snacknation collated research that showed that companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%, happy employees are 12% more productive, happy salespeople complete 37% more sales, happy employees take 10 times fewer sick days and, rather tellingly, 36% of people would take a $5k pay cut just to be happy at work. These are all figures that should get any board or CEO excited, and all it takes is a positive working environment.

But how to make your workspace a more positive place to be? It’s easier said than done, admittedly, but once the changes are made it is relatively easy to sustain. First job should be to have a word with the petty tyrants that can inhabit an office. People who clearly get a kick out of bossing people around can make other worker’s lives miserable, and should not be in supervisory positions. That is not to say they should be gotten rid of altogether if they are good at their job, but giving them domain over a group will do more harm then good. Just because somebody is doing well does not mean they have what it takes to manage people.

Most obviously, it is important to satisfactorily compensate your employees. It will attract the best talent, and will keep your staff motivated. If a worker is struggling to make ends meet this will inevitably lead to stress, which will affect work performance. It’s not good for anybody. It is also important to offer monetary incentives. Most organisations offer bonuses, but a bonus that will increase in the result of a strong individual or team work performance will keep your workers hungry to improve.

Compassion and support for employees is very important, but is oddly underutilised, considering on the most part it’s something that costs nothing. This can take the shape of flexible hours, working from home agreements, constructive feedback, additional training, access to counselling and an open door policy on complaints or grievances. Each workforce will be different, but it is important that employees feel comfortable enough that they can come to HR or to line managers with problems and not worry about vilification or repercussion. Human beings are complex creatures, and it is important you treat them as such.

There are dozens of little things that can be done to make the workplace happier. Free food is always a good start, with 67% of employees who work in a place that offers grub for nothing saying they’re ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ happy in their current position. Going out together promotes camaraderie, without resorting to clichéd “team-building” exercises, which can make the more introverted or cynical employees awkward. Make sure that employees have adequate breaks, encourage workers to make desk spaces their own, form sports teams and offer other physical and fun activities, allow employees to wear casual clothing. Making the office as aesthetically pleasing as possible helps workers focus, as does making sure the employees are comfortable, and, when appropriate, allowing them to listen to their own music or podcasts. These are not difficult things to do, but can make the world of difference for your employees.

According to Gallup, a happy workplace decreases staff turnover by 51%, and HBR research found that it decreases staff burnout by 125%. These are staggering statistics, and should not be taken lightly. A happy place to work is advantageous for absolutely everyone.



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