• 21 July 2015

Five proven ways to boost employee happiness

In a 2015 study by Deloitte, employee engagement was identified as a key organisational challenge: 

“Organisations are recognising the need to focus on culture and dramatically improve employee engagement as they face a looming crisis in engagement and retention.” – (Global Human Capital Trends 2015, Deloitte University Press). 

Happy employees are engaged employees, and as the Deloitte study notes, corporate culture may have to change in order to cultivate happiness in the workforce. Here are five ways this can be accomplished: 

1. Cut down the commuting 

Long, aggravating commutes put employees in a bad frame of mind walking in the door and out – but this may only be the tip of the iceberg. In this article from Psychology Today, commuting stress is associated with physical and mental health problems that decrease on-the-job performance and job satisfaction. 

Companies cannot afford to believe employees are either in the office or not working. Especially with the gargantuan advances in digital technology, remote working is becoming as efficient as, or perhaps more efficient than, commuting to an office. 

Consider giving employees a break from commuting by allowing them to work remotely one or more days a week, and permitting flexible hours so commuters can avoid rush hour congestion. For employees who must be in the office to do their jobs, make proximity to the office a key hiring factor – it will improve retention. 

2. Communicate 

Strong internal communication is seen as a significant contributor to employee engagement and happiness. When employees are kept in the dark about performance – on a personal, work, team and corporate level – they experience uncertainty and stress. This tends to make them tentative, prone to error and generally indifferent about their jobs. Productivity, results and job retention suffer tremendously. 

It is crucially important for organisations to communicate openly and often with employees, creating a transparent culture where good and bad news is shared in a frank (but businesslike) manner. 

Messages from top executives are indispensable in this effort, but in addition, managers should work closely with their staff to both share company goals and results, and also, and perhaps more importantly, listen to their suggestions and concerns. 

3. Create a holistically human environment 

Google is an ultra-successful company, known for its uniquely happy work environment, and also considered by many the best company to work for in America. Clearly, Google proves the connection between employee happiness and results. 

Some of the inventive things you will find in a Google office: employee “nap pods”, pubs to replace meeting rooms, furniture in colours that promote a positive response, free food and unlimited snacks, and on-campus child care. 

These lifestyle perks are a fundamental part of the formula for success at Google. 

4. Gamify 

Gamification is a fairly new approach to building employee engagement, which takes elements of a game and applies them to a business function or process. Despite its newness, gamification has great promise – this article features success stories from IBM and Siemens, where games are used to advance problem solving and learning. 

Gamification need not be as sophisticated as creating a virtual reality game (as IBM did). Instead, it could be as simple as dividing an outbound lead generation staff into three teams that compete to achieve a variety of performance goals. 

Naturally, the success of a gamification strategy depends on the design of the game. If, for instance, the lead generation competition degenerates into hostility and corner cutting, it has done far more harm than good. This is an area where companies should study successful implementations and work with gamification specialists before diving in. 

5. Listen 

Earlier we touched upon the importance of listening to employee input. However, the importance of listening cannot be over stressed. Mills & Reeve, a law firm that perennially appears on the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For, credits its success in large part to listening to employees and acting on their feedback. 

When employees feel like they are being listened to, that alone increases their happiness. When the business changes because of their input, happiness increases further; and when business changes they drove improve results, happiness may go off the charts. Seeking input, considering it, and communicating feedback combine to make employees eager to walk through the door each and every day.