Employee happiness is the natural result of a recognition-rich culture that engages everyone.
In a truly happy workplace, no one gets left behind, even new hires and remote staff.
International Day of Happiness is Tuesday, March 20. This year’s theme is “Share Happiness” — a focus on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping each other.
We need it! The U.S. ranks 18th among the world’s countries, with an average life satisfaction of around 6.88 on a scale of 10, according to a United Nations report.
“While that may be relatively near the top, America’s happiness figures have actually declined every year since the reports began in 2012, and this year’s are the lowest yet,” writes George Ward, a PhD researcher at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and co-author of the new book “The Origins of Happiness: The Science of Well-Being Over the Life Course.”
In an article this week for the Conversation, “Why Americans are unhappier than ever — and how to fix it,” Ward addresses employee happiness directly.
“Not surprisingly, the world of work has a huge influence on our happiness as adults, providing not only income but also important social interactions as well as routine and purpose. The leading drivers of a satisfying work life include job autonomy, work-life balance and the quality of social interactions with coworkers and managers,” he writes.
Employee happiness “is not a luxury, but can make for a more profitable business environment,” he adds.
The Evolving Leadership Model for Employee Happiness
It’s increasingly clear that workplace leaders wield incredible power in building employee happiness. Leaders set the tone for communication and ultimately define the culture of a workplace.
As more business leaders recognize this, the role of leadership itself is finally changing, according to a Chief Learning Officer column by Ken Blanchard on “The Rise of the Servant Leader.”
For too long, the business world hung onto outdated roles defined during the Industrial Revolution.
“Leaders saw their role as getting workers to produce the most goods in the shortest amount of time,” Blanchard writes. Over the decades, as information became as important as materials, employees “were no longer viewed as mere ‘hired hands,’ and managers had to learn to encourage and inspire those who worked with them.”
The effective leadership model of encouragement and inspiration is still relatively new. And, as a multitude of research studies show — such as Gallup’s ongoing study of employee engagement — management is still catching up.
Meanwhile, employee happiness levels overall remain low and stagnant.
What You Can Do to Build Employee Happiness Today
This International Day of Happiness, commit to increasing employee happiness for every employee — no matter their role, at every point in the employment cycle.
Start with these practical tips for common challenges to employee happiness.
1. Employer Brand
Your employer brand is hopefully what attracted employees to your company in the first place. It’s also crucial to employee happiness throughout the employment life cycle.
It’s what makes an employee excited to tell friends about a new job. It fosters a sense of pride. Even after an employee leaves the company, it’s ideal for them to still be an ambassador for your employer brand.
“Companies that develop reputations for being great places to work have strong employer branding,” Eric Friedman, founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, writes in a recent HR Dive column.
He debunks common employer branding myths — that it’s too expensive, it’s just for big companies, can’t be measured and is too hard to implement.
He also refutes the common misconception that employer branding is unnecessary:
“Do potential candidates line up at the door of your HR department without any effort on your part to recruit them? If the answer is yes, then you deserve a statue. But if the answer is no, you need to analyze each step in a candidate’s journey to find out how he or she interacts with your employer brand.”
Your company’s onboarding experience encompasses “preboarding” (before a new hire even sets foot in the workplace) to how new hires are welcomed into the fold on the first day, first month, first year of employment.
Don’t just tell candidates and new hires what a great company culture you have, model it from the beginning! This means more recognition, appreciation and, above all, clear communication. Don’t hesitate to share gratitude or even small welcome gifts.
“Top performing organizations are rethinking traditional administrative approaches to onboarding,” according to the Vibe HCM eBook, “First Impressions Matter.” The eBook is a great resource to get started and includes real-life examples on how firms are creating memorable, productive new hire experiences.
3. Disengaged Workers
Disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity, according to Gallup.
Behind this astronomical figure are real people and real companies struggling with near epidemic levels of disengagement. Disengaged employees are more likely to show up late, miss work, waste time and drive away customers. These are not happy employees.
The three main factors of disengagement are intangible. Disengaged employees…
- Don’t understand why their work matters
- Don’t trust management
- Don’t feel valued or recognized
But don’t look on disengaged workers as a lost cause! Read out blog post “3 Ways to Hook Disengaged Employees” for suggestions on reversing disengagement trends and rebuilding employee happiness.
4. Remote Workers
Remote workers have one problem in common, no matter if they’re on the road, at home or in a satellite office.
Working remotely is on the rise, meaning the common challenge of engaging remote workers isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to an HR Dive analysis:
“To keep full-time remote employees “from feeling isolated, employers should use all means of communication to see that they’re receiving important news and notifications addressing organizational updates, policy changes and staff activities. A study by software firm Kollective, shows that remote [workers] often feel “out of the loop.” …
“Since remote workers often put in longer hours than onsite employees, burnout can be a health and productivity problem. Managers can check in with remote staff periodically to find out what their needs might be and to adjust workloads or recommend time off, if necessary.”
Also, don’t forget to include remote workers in workplace celebrations! Remote workers often miss out on the day-to-day camaraderie and relationships built over time through coffee breaks, office birthday parties and other low-key celebrations.
Bring in remote workers via in-person meetings when possible, or video-conferencing when not, and be sure to share small gifts that bring the “Thank You” party to remote workers, like Pizza Gift Certificates.
Looking for more happiness inspiration? Check out Action for Happiness’ Instagram and “Mindful March” Calendar — with activities every day to increase mindfulness and happiness — or connect with others at the International Day of Happiness website or via social media with the hashtag #InternationalDayofHappiness.
Make Employee Happiness a Year-Round Priority: Download Your Employee Celebration Calendar
Keep the commitment going towards building a culture of appreciation and loyalty. Download gThankYou’s FREE “Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar” today and nurture an everyday culture of appreciation that employees will love.
We’ve updated our annual day-to-day appreciation calendar with lots of new topics, new case studies and even more holidays and reasons to celebrate! As in previous years, the gThankYou calendar is jam-packed with insights into the latest HR trends, how-to tutorials for engaging and thanking employees, case studies to inspire you, examples of holidays to celebrate each month, and research statistics to help you make the business case for appreciation.
Download yours FREE today!
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