Why Happy Employees Make for Better Business
Paul Ryan | December 01, 2017
In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, it’s fair to say that the happiness of their workers was not a top priority for most employers. In these enlightened times, however, we understand a lot more about human psychology, and the ways in which taking steps to make employees happy can enhance a business’s bottom line.
Keeping employees happy at work can have a positive effect on productivity, customer service, profitability, and the overall workplace environment. Let’s explore the benefits of happy workers and how to bring about happiness in the workplace.
Benefits of happy employees
Having a happy workforce has a number of important benefits, including:
* Higher productivity – people work more productively when they are engaged with and actually enjoying what they are doing.
* Higher return on investment – workers who feel valued, appreciated and rewarded are more likely to mirror that value and appreciation and produce better quality work, leading to a higher return for the business’s investment in them.
* Reduced absenteeism – when employees are unhappy at work they may take more ‘sickies’, but may also genuinely suffer from more illness and work-induced stress and anxiety. Happier workers with higher levels of job satisfaction are more likely to thrive and are less likely to take time off as sick leave.
* Lower rates of attrition – good employees are a business’s best assets, especially if they are motivated and enthusiastic about their work and their attitude rubs off on others. When valued workers leave, it can be very expensive in a number of ways. It often involves termination payments, loss of valuable skills, and new worker hiring and training costs. It can also have a negative effect on remaining employees and impact on workplace morale.
On the other hand, workers who find their jobs rewarding and satisfying are more likely to stay loyal to the business and are less likely to look for work elsewhere.
* Better workplace relationships – unhappy or disgruntled workers who have poor relationships with their employer are more likely to commit fraud, theft or sabotage. Where work relationships are healthy, loyalty and trustworthiness are more likely qualities to appear.
* Better customer service – we have probably all been on the receiving end of poor customer service by a disinterested employee, and either complained or decided not to return to that business as a result. On the other hand, when we are provided quality service by a genuinely interested and enthusiastic customer service officer, we are more likely to come back.
So how do you create happiness in your business?
Seeing your employees as a valued asset rather than as a cost is a good starting point. You need to recognise that success in your business relies on the performance of your workers. When you have this as your springboard, taking steps to ensure your workers are happy becomes easier. These include:
* Build meaningful relationships with your workers. Don’t bunker away in your managerial office, but take the time to talk to your employees and take an interest in them as people and as workers who contribute to your bottom line.
* Find out what your employees need to improve their working lives and make the effort to provide this (within reason of course). This may include more training or options for career development, increased pay or benefits, more flexible working hours, or better work-life balance. It’s important to note that it’s better to offer these things at the hiring stage, rather than as incentives once a staff member hands in their resignation!
* Create a culture within your business where training and development are the norm. Research shows that companies that invest in training are rewarded with higher levels of productivity and profitability than those that do not.
Some options for training and development include self-paced online training, in-house programs, knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer training, or external training courses.
* Many employees thrive when given the freedom to expand and the option to contribute to innovation and new ideas. Many also perform better when given responsibility for whole projects rather than undertaking segregated repetitive tasks, as this provides more meaning to their employment. Create an environment that empowers employees to perform at their best level.
* Sometimes workers report becoming worn down at work by what they perceive as endless and meaningless staff meetings. If you do hold regular meetings in your business, and you happen to notice that participants are looking about as excited as if they were having teeth pulled, it might be time to change the way you do your meetings! Consider breaking up meetings into chunks of time, making them more interactive, making them shorter, or even abandoning them altogether.
It’s important to note that what makes one worker happy may not apply to another. For example, not every employee is ambitious or interested in promotion and career advancement. Some have other priorities and are quite happy to come to work, do what is required of them, and go home. As long as they are happy and productive, there is no need to push them into further advancement or development just for the sake of it.
To conclude, some advice from an expert!
Virgin’s Richard Branson makes the point that it is often the best employees in a business that are also the most motivated and independent, and also the most likely to eventually leave and start their own businesses.
Branson suggests offering your best and brightest employees the opportunity to start up new businesses within your company if possible. That way you may get to keep your best workers happy and benefit from their excellence for a long time to come!