Why should employee happiness be your top priority?
Happiness gives us wings, so we want to do things that make us smile and give us a boost of endorphins. This applies to all areas of life - we choose studies that interest us, we hang out with friends we feel comfortable around, and we have hobbies that give us joy and satisfaction. And it's the same with work. According to a study by the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School, employees who are happy in their jobs work up to 13% more productively, and it's not because they're taking over time - they just do the tasks they enjoy faster and better.
Nowadays, work is more than just a source of money - employees are looking for a place where they can grow, meet interesting people and feel good. Nobody wants to spend 40 hours a week doing something they simply don't care about, so the key challenge for managers is to make employees feel part of the organization and care about its development. And it's hard to identify with a place where you don't feel happy. Highly engaged employees can increase company profitability by 21%, so when you care about the happiness of your people, everyone wins.
Employee turnover is a big problem for organizations in particular. Employees often perceive a change in the company as a positive event that is associated with a raise, development and new opportunities. For the company, on the other hand, it means a reduction of resources, the need to onboard a new person in the company and often a temporary decrease in inefficiency. An experienced employee who knows all the processes and can perform tasks faster is a great value, so the challenge for any employer is to make sure their people don't look for another option. Happiness in the workplace also plays a key role here, as companies that implement strategies to improve employee satisfaction and engagement have 24% less turnover.
Good company culture
Friendly company culture and a good atmosphere are not just nice words to put in a job ad, even 46% of candidates consider company culture a very important factor when choosing a new job (Builtin, 2019). And it's much easier to create a cool work environment when your employees are happy. In such a place, people are more likely to work as a team, support each other in their duties and share knowledge. As a result, quality and productivity increase.
How to measure the happiness of your employees
At this stage, you're certainly no longer in any doubt that it's worth it to take care of your employees' happiness, not only because your company will then simply be a better place on earth, but also for purely business reasons (efficiency, productivity, time savings, lower turnover). Now we'll discuss some ways to measure happiness levels.
An anonymous survey is the best way to get your employees' honest opinions on important topics. As a team leader, manager or CEO, you certainly get some feedback on what employees think about working at your company, but most employees will not talk to you as openly as they would a colleague in their team. A survey is a safe and neutral way for an employee to give honest feedback, while for you it is an invaluable source of information. You can use a tool such as Google Forms for this purpose. Below we have prepared an example of such a survey.
Below are several statements about your job. Rate how much you agree with each on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 means "strongly disagree" and 5 means "strongly agree."
- The company offers me great opportunities to develop my knowledge and competencies.
- I know what conditions I have to meet to get a promotion or a raise.
- I feel appreciated for the work I do.
- I feel good about my team and enjoy being part of it.
- My job gives me satisfaction.
- I often feel stressed at work.
- I feel that my employer respects my work-life balance.
- I feel that I can always talk openly with my supervisor.
- I find my work very tiring.
- I am satisfied with my salary.
- I think I will want to change jobs within a year.
- The company provides me with enough support in my work.
- I am satisfied with the benefits the company offers.
- I feel happy in my job.
- I think my company is better than most.
- I feel that I am important to the company.
- People in the company compete with each other instead of helping each other.
- I am constantly afraid that I will be fired.
- I get stressed in the evenings thinking that I have to go to work in the morning.
- I would like to get to know other people in the company better, for example, during interactions.
- I feel that I have confidence in my supervisor.
- When I need help, I know who to turn to.
The first part is over! In the second one, we have some open-ended questions for you.
- What do you like most about your workplace?
- What do you dislike most about your workplace?
- What do you think could be done to make your company a better place to work?
- If you would like to share some additional thoughts - here is the place for it!
Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
The eNPS is a very simple way to find out what employees think about your company. Ask employees to rate on a scale of 0-10 how likely they are to recommend your company as a place to work. Then, divide the survey participants into three groups:
Promoters are those who marked a 9 or 10 on the scale. These are the people who rate conditions at your company the highest and can give you valuable feedback on the strengths of your organization.
Passives are those who marked 7 or 8 on the scale and are rather satisfied but do not have particularly strong feelings about your company, either positive or negative. Their feedback is a good starting point for what can be improved. Pay some attention to their insights and they can become promoters.
Detractors are those who marked 0 to 6 on the scale. They are not satisfied with working for your company and there is a good chance they will leave if they get a better opportunity. They can give you very valuable feedback on changes and improvements to make in your company. It may seem like a lot of work to raise their happiness level, but working together to find effective solutions will pay off.
To calculate your eNPS, simply figure out what percentage of your employees are Promoters and Detractors. Then subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. You get a score from -100 to 100. Of course, the higher the score, the better, but if the value is below 0, you need to work on the happiness level of your employees.
A survey will give you general information from across the company, but individual feedback is also very important, especially when it comes to employee happiness. Set up regular 1-on-1 meetings where team leaders or managers meet separately with each employee on their team. These meetings can last about 30-60 minutes and take place once a week, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on your needs. This frequency is important because it gives a sense that employees and employers can exchange information regularly, not just when there is an issue, such as the company not being happy. Remember also that the purpose of these meetings is not only to evaluate the employee's performance but also to ask them about their feelings, satisfaction, problems and needs. Encourage your people to give feedback to you and the company during your meetings as well, because this is the only way to find out if there is something you can improve. Emphasize that the purpose of 1-on-1 meetings is to get to know each other's needs and expectations better in an atmosphere of openness and to build trust and transparency. This will make it easier for your team to tell you honestly how they feel.
In many companies, employees have contact with the HR department twice - when they recruit to the company and when they leave it. Meanwhile, human resources aren't just about hiring new people, it's also about retaining current people and providing them with the best environment to work in. Involve your HR department in regular meetings with employees where they can talk about their well-being at work, development and satisfaction. This neutral ground when talking to an HR professional, rather than their supervisor, can be a comfortable way for employees to talk about their happiness at work and their expectations.
A good leader must be alert to the signals coming from team members. Observing the daily workday and listening carefully to what employees are communicating is a valuable resource for learning about satisfaction and happiness levels. Pay attention to whether your employees are showing frustration, overworked or bored, whether their motivation levels are dropping or whether they just seem sad. Often the first reaction of employers to a decline in employee engagement is to criticize and threaten to lose their jobs, which only compounds the problem. Such signals from the team, on the other hand, are a sign that something is wrong, that people are not happy at the company and that something needs to be done about it.
The key to happiness - what you can do to increase employee satisfaction
1. Ask and react
To improve something you need to know what needs improvement, so regularly gather information about whether your employees feel good about the company. Surveys, 1-on-1 meetings, team brainstorming or briefings are great opportunities to find out what your employees think and what they need. From there, all you have to do is implement the right solutions.
2. Guarantee work-life balance
The modern job market is increasingly promoting work-life balance, and over time, which used to be standard in many industries, is now viewed very negatively. Ensure your employees get enough rest, react if you see them staying at work too long, and let them forget about work while on vacation. Of course, sometimes a project may be particularly demanding and you have to stay longer. In this situation, reassure your employees that overtime is the exception and not the norm and offer extra pay or vacation days as compensation.
3. Build an atmosphere of honesty and openness
Happy employees are those who receive respect and attention at work. Create an environment where needs can be openly discussed and every problem can be resolved.
4. Attractive salary and benefits
High organizational culture, a friendly team and interesting projects are very important company values, but they are not enough if the employee feels that his work is not paid enough. Do your market research and make sure that the package you offer your employees is at least at the same level as your competitors. Attractive salary and interesting benefits such as medical and psychological care, sports package or development budget are just a few of the possibilities. Here you can find proposals for the most interesting perks.
5. Take care of the integration
It is much better to work in a company of people you like, so it is very important to integrate your team. Organize joint outings, for example, bowling, dinner or a bike trip to the woods. You will see how much the level of happiness and quality of teamwork will increase when your employees are not only co-workers but also colleagues.
6. Reduce micromanagement, increase ownership
If you employ specialists and experts in your work, it is not to tell them what to do all the time. Employees will be much more motivated and satisfied with their work if they feel that they are responsible for it. So a good practice in increasing happiness levels in an organization is to decrease micromanagement and increase ownership.
7. Take care of employee development
Even the most interesting job will become boring if you do it the same way all the time. So it's important that your team feels that they are constantly learning new things. And it's not just about the natural experiential learning gained while working on a project, but also about training, courses and conferences, where people will feel that they are developing their competencies. Show your employees that you invest in them and be sure that they will return the favour by contributing to the success of your company.
8. Empower employees to have an impact
An important part of building employee happiness is the feeling that the team has a say in the work environment and can work together to create the company they're connected to. Implement employee initiatives that make everyone feel a part of your organization.
9. Be flexible
People are different and have different preferences for work mode. Some prefer to work from the office while others work from home, some prefer to start in the morning while others are most productive in the evenings, and some prefer a phone call while others discuss a task via email. As much as possible, try to be flexible to the needs of your employees so that they feel comfortable in your company.
10. Reduce stress
Many managers do not see the difference between pressure and motivation, and this is a big mistake. Pressure causes stress, stress makes employees more tired, they burn out faster and they feel anxious about their next day at work. Motivation, on the other hand, is like a boost of energy that increases productivity and satisfaction. Show your employees that you can handle any problem, look for solutions, not blame, and don't escalate stressful situations.
11. Show that you are a team
Many people in the workplace feel that the company is divided into two groups - "us", or employees, and "them", or management. Try to avoid this situation, emphasize that you are all part of one organization and you are playing together for a common goal.
Happily ever after
Employee happiness is one of the most important elements affecting the productivity, engagement and satisfaction of your employees. But beyond improved performance, it will give you something else - a sense that your company can grow by building on a solid foundation of motivated, happy employees who want to be part of your success.