The No. 1 Reason You Want Happy Workers? It Boosts Your Bottom Line

Nov 27, 2014
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

We all know that happy employees are much more productive and creative at their jobs than their unhappy counterparts. Yet, according to Gallup, unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by nearly 2-1 odds in the U.S.

With workplace productivity, employee satisfaction and overall office culture on the line, many companies are paying more attention to the importance of delighting their employees.

Why focus on employee happiness?

Managers are responsible for employee happiness

In addition to producing high-quality work more efficiently, happy employees tend to stay with their companies longer and become loyal brand champions. They actually like going in to work every day.

Rather than watching a team sulk into the office, bury their heads in cups of coffee and get lost in the daily grind every morning, managers have a responsibility of finding easy (and cheap) ways to brighten their days.

It’s a given that a good paycheck and solid benefits are important for employee satisfaction, but take it a step further to ensure workplace delight. Consider the following three workplace happiness factors: challenges, work-life balance, and rewards.

1. Challenges

If workers aren’t challenged to grow and stretch their skills, they quickly become discouraged and lose motivation. Here are a few tips to keep them engaged and satisfied:

  • Provide opportunities to use and develop their skills. For example, after your team returns from a conference, ask them to use one thing they learned in their next projects. If they hold a college degree or specialization that they don’t use in their daily job, ask them about it, and figure out a way they can put it to work.
  • Set difficult, but achievable, goals that your workers are proud to reach. Know the difference between pushing hard and pushing too far.

2.  Work-life balance

Life exists beyond your office walls, and happiness in the workplace has a big effect on overall happiness. If you keep that in mind and show that you care about their well-being as an employer, workers will look forward to being in the office every day.

A few ways you can help improve that work-life balance include offering:

  • Telecommuting — Depending on the workload, it can be very easy for employees to work from home. By cutting out the commute, they have more time for daily errands and chores and have less to fret about at their desks the rest of the week.
  • Flexible work schedules — Some offices hold strict 9 am–3 pm office hours and then allow employees to come in either earlier or work later, so long as they are present for eight hours.
  • Compressed work weeks — Consider offering four 10-hour workdays to give your team more relaxing three-day weekends.

3. Rewards

Hard work pays off for a company, so try to reward the employees once in a while, too. To recognize employee contributions, employers can “give back” through:

  • Company gatherings — Whether it’s a happy hour or a catered lunch, food and drinks get everyone around a table and away from their desks.
  • Group outings — Sometimes it does a team good to escape the office for an afternoon. Consider a quarterly volunteer day, cheer on your local team at a sporting event or – to really get the adrenaline going – plan a skydiving outing, go kart race or exhilarating hike.
  • Performance-based rewards — Never doubt the power of good old-fashioned positive reinforcement. If you notice hard work, you might consider rewarding the employee with a gift card, gadget or online subscription. Whatever you choose, match the gift to their personality. It shows that you care a bit more than a standard gift card or bonus check.

 How to measure employee happiness

If you’re investing in employee happiness, you likely want to know what you get in return. One method is the employee Net Promoter Score (ePNS). This uses survey questions to rank attitudes into Promoters, Passives and Detractors to measure overall workplace engagement and satisfaction.

You might also measure happiness the old-fashioned way by paying attention. What perks do your team actually use? Keep the ones they like, get rid of the ones they don’t. Showing that you are paying attention to preferences goes a long way.

Caring about workplace happiness isn’t just about measuring emotions — it’s about improving your bottom line. Keep employees happy and they’ll become more loyal, stay on board longer and produce better results.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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