‘Tis the season for being very merry in our personal lives, but should we be merry at work too? Experts who have studied the impact of happiness on productivity found that there is a 12% increase in overall productivity when people are happy. Companies where employees are happier tend to earn between 1.2 – 1.7 percent more than their peers, and happier people are even better problem solvers. If you Google the topic, there are hundreds of other related statistics that clearly illustrate how employee happiness correlates to business success. So, yes: employee happiness matters on a very practical level.
But, as a leader, what does it take to encourage a holly-jolly work environment, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year?
But, successful businesses don't stop at "enough."
What makes employees feel happy?
First, one must understand what employees need to be happy. Is it foosball tables and beer in the office, time off and extra awards, or enjoying their co-workers and earning a bigger salary? It’s easy to create a list of benefits that “might” make people happy, but to really get to the bottom of what’s going to be effective, we need to think more broadly. What is it that people need to increase job satisfaction and engagement – or, more simply put, to be happy at work?
Satisfaction means that someone likes their job and work environment well enough. Many tangible benefits, like those mentioned above, help to create job satisfaction. They address the person’s basic need to work at a job they like well enough and get paid enough to do so. But, successful businesses don’t stop at “enough.” They seek experimenters, self-starters, leaders. They need people who are engaged and who want to put in a little “extra” to help the business develop and grow. That’s where engagement takes over.
To be engaged, one must be motivated to work harder and better. According to Drive by Daniel H. Pink, there are three main things that motivate people. These are:
- Autonomy – the opportunity to direct your own work
- Mastery – the chance to continue improving and getting better
- Purpose – the feeling that you’re part of something greater than the task at hand
Clearly, happiness in the workplace requires a balance of both satisfaction and engagement. Just as you don’t want people completely stuck at the satisfaction level, you also can’t simply push them towards being more engaged all the time. If you do that, without balancing your efforts with perks and rewards, you’ll find your top employees looking for opportunities elsewhere because they won’t be getting “enough” of what they need.
So, let’s take a closer look at each of these to find out how they are practically applied in the office.
We are recommending that you step back and think about the impact of incentives on workers to find good-fit ways to improve overall job satisfaction.
To reiterate, components of workplace satisfaction tend to be more tangible. Beyond salary and job requirements, satisfaction can be increased through the use of incentives and “perks.” Yet, you should offer up “extras” with reason so that they are meaningful to your team.
Examine the perks in your office and ask yourself:
- Do they make people feel special?
- Are they improving overall health and well-being? Reducing stress, keeping people physically active?
- Do they help people stay on top of their home lives so that they can stay focused when work gets too busy?
- Are they important to the people on my team?
- Are they in-line with what others in the industry are offering?
While we’re not suggesting that you quickly get rid of the candy drawer because it’s not making the team feel happy, we are recommending that you step back and think about the impact of incentives on workers to find good-fit ways to improve overall job satisfaction.
People crave control, and creating ways in which people can exert that in their work lives helps them find greater enjoyment during their day. The notion is supported by the fact that 53 percent of those who are creative at work describe themselves as happy: creativity happens when people have the freedom to think and experiment in their work lives.
Of course, every work environment is different, so the application of autonomy will look different in every business. But there are common ideas that you can draw on as you think about how to give your team more independence in their roles. These include:
- Allowing flexibility in terms of where and when people work.
- Teaching teams how to self-organize and self-direct their work.
- Incorporating tools that facilitate better communication.
- Supporting each individual in building time management and organizational skills.
It's about continuous improvement and personal growth.
Mastery isn’t about being the very best at something. Instead, it’s about continuous improvement and personal growth. Actions you take that help people improve their performance and continue developing professionally build mastery. These may include:
- Working with people to set goals, instead of focusing on individual task completion.
- Finding tools that reduce time spent on administrative tasks so people can focus on bigger-picture ideas.
- Offering self-development opportunities and the chance to explore new skills.
- Increasing someone’s level of responsibility as their skills grow.
Having purpose is different from “doing good things.” It’s not exactly about adding a corporate social responsibility program or giving people time off to volunteer. While these are great opportunities for employees to feel good, when it comes to creating purpose in the workplace, focus more on helping employees understand the “why” behind what’s happening.
Why does their work matter? Why does your company exist? Why is it important to get tasks done faster? Why does this project have importance? Why does their role matter? And, of course, is their performance actually helping to move the needle in these areas?
Management can help to create a sense of purpose by:
- Honing their vision of the corporate culture and taking steps to align the company with that vision.
- Clearly and frequently sharing the company mission and values.
- Talking about the “why.” For instance, consider saying “Our customers must get their holiday packages on time or there will be some sad little children on Christmas morning.” That statement conveys more purpose than saying, “Hurry up with those orders.”
- Recognizing and rewarding successes in the context of “why.” For instance, instead of rewarding your help desk for “closing the most number of tickets,” you might reward them for “helping more sales people get back on the road.”
With 2019 right around the corner, you’re likely considering new initiatives for the upcoming year. Put employee happiness at the top of your list and start looking for ways to build satisfaction, autonomy, mastery and purpose in your organization. Not only will it make work merrier, it’s likely to have you jingle, jingle, jingling all the way to the bank too.
And, as our gift to you during the holidays, enjoy a special introductory offer for new customers when you inquire about the newly released OTRS 7 service management suite before December 31. It’s a modern cloud-based tool for tracking and automating requests, as well as improving communication between teams and customers.