Employers rarely consider happiness to be an essential work place practice but a happy employee can change a company’s fortune and is pivotal for its development
Strangely enough even in these lean times companies and employees across all levels are debating happiness at work. I wonder, wouldn’t one rather worry about keeping the job to keep the home fires burning. But something tells me I am wrong.
Take this recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for example, which says that employee engagement is a bigger motivator than money. In real terms, the study cited that in the US alone, 72 per cent of the employees considered themselves disengaged, which in terms of money translated into an annual loss of a whopping 370 billion dollars. The study should ring warning bells for employers, for disengagement is one of the factors that could lead to unhappiness at work.
But back to the first question: Why should employers strive for a happier office. My colleague Ashleigh Fitzgerald tells me that it is important for a company to demonstrate it cares. A happy office can make a difference to an employee and in turn her commitment to an organisation. At the same time it encourages ‘discretional effort’ of the employees towards the organisation they work for. Essentially, discretional effort is what people give to their jobs when they are happy, the small extra efforts, hours, energy and enthusiasm they put in. But if employees disgruntled, this effort vanishes.
In my discussions with managing director at Happiness Unlimted in Noida, India Vanshika Prahladka, who along with senior HR manager Ruhi Sahu and motivational guru Karan Kharb works towards making India’s workplaces happier, it was concluded that happiness increases our willingness to do things. The emotion improves our problem solving abilities, resilience, efficiency, etc. Essentially, feeling happy creates a happy cycle: When we are happy, we enjoy what we do; when we enjoy what we do, we do it better; when we do good things, we feel good, and want to continue the momentum.
Juxtaposing this thought against the office background, I have come to realise that employee retention is strategic to the growth of an organisation. Therefore, if we can generate happy employees, we can retain a few as well.
So, what are the symptoms of an unhappy employee? My experience as an employer tells me there are some clear markers that tell if someone is unhappy in office. Apart from sudden dip in performance and non participation in the organisation’s development, missing deadlines and coming late to work is a strong indicator. Similarly, it helps for employers to watch the body language of colleagues – are they smiling and engaged in conversation. Also, take a serious look at the leave book. If employees take too many sick leaves, it could be an indication that all is not well, and not just health wise. Other factors like ungratefulness, and monotony and repetition in work and thought can also be added. Similarly, watch out for employees who are easily distracted and do not offer help to people around them.
Online columnist Ilya Pozin lists some of the things that could be making employees unhappy. For instance, do they think their friends in other offices or companies have a better deal than them? Pozin points out, “The transparency of employee benefits and perks can sometimes lead your employees to dream about working elsewhere.” His solution, “Keep an eye on what other companies are doing and try to match where you can.”
Similarly, other grouses that lead to employees being less than happy with their organisation, according to Pozin, include, a feeling of being undervalued, no room for advancement, unhappiness with pay, red tape, lack of challenges and of course, poor management. So, take time to pat your employees on the back, cut the red tape and create a plan for your employees to grow with you.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]A study by Federal Bank of Boston cited that in the US alone, 72 per cent of the employees considered themselves disengaged, which in terms of money translated into an annual loss of a whopping 370 billion dollars[/quote]
For matters of pay, Pozin advises that it may be worth your while to consider asking your employees what they feel they deserve. Put all these together, and you may be on your way to being a better boss.
At the same time, Ashleigh stresses that even the little things matter when it comes to creating a happier workplace. In fact, it begins right at the induction stage, she offers. So, welcome the new staff and introduce them to everyone, if possible. The induction should include the formal training and information about the informal office culture. Similarly, few employers offer health and safety awareness and training. A DVD on fire awareness is easy to obtain and can save lives. Employers should also look at measures that create a sense of well being, like an office environmental policy: encourage them to recycle paper, not use plastic water cups, turn off computers and lights.
Also, create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy. A monthly initiative focusing on different CSR themes creates a sense of well being for staff. Team building activities also help with staff integration while aiding the development of friendships, It also helps in employee recognition. Organisations should make special effort to identify performers and make sure everyone in the team get to know about the achievement of the individual.
In conclusion, happy people are motivated and the best way to judge the happiness levels of an organisation and its people to see its growth. If an institute and its people are growing each year, then it’s a happy place.
Run a check, are your employees happy?
This column was brought to you by employment agency Antal International