It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the more successful you are, the happier you are going to be. Humans are hopeful creatures, and in many ways, the reason that we work at anything is so that we can feel happy with the results. It’s simply the way we’re wired.
However, there is plenty of research that suggests the opposite is true. Before we get into that, let’s look at a quote by German philosopher and Nobel Laureate, Albert Schweitzer:
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
Now, before you give up and assume that this post is little more than sentimental fodder, let us assure you that the connection between satisfaction and success has serious implications for your business—regardless of whether it’s a start-up or a multinational corporation. In other words, the happiness of your management and staff can transform your business into a more successful (not to mention more profitable) enterprise.
Happy Employees are More Productive
Reams of research have been compiled on the connection between happy employees and higher levels of productivity. Given the results, it’s safe to say that promoting a positive work environment is a highly effective way of boosting efficiency and productivity.
In a study carried out at the University of Warwick, participants were asked to complete a series tasks through which their productivity levels could be measured. The catch was that some participants were first shown a comedy movie or given a free treat (chocolate, fruit or a beverage in this case). Presumably, these test subjects were ‘happier’ than their counterparts who didn’t watch a funny show or enjoy a special treat.
The results were unambiguous. The happier participants were 12 per cent more productive than their control-group counterparts. Imagine the implications here. If something as trivial as a free piece of fruit can make a person work harder, what sort of results would an employer see if they instituted a fully-fledged workplace happiness campaign?
More Companies Looking for Ways to Boost Happiness in the Workplace
While plenty of research suggests that happy employees are more productive, the abovementioned study is the first to demonstrate a causal relationship. In the past, studies relied anecdotal reports of happiness. Employees may have completed a survey, or researchers may have identified seemingly happier people working for businesses that were more productive. But the above study shows a direct link between getting something good and working harder immediately after.
With that in mind, plenty of companies are getting serious about promoting happiness in the workplace. Google is often the example given in this case. Google offices are outfitted with all kinds of fun extras—from indoor slides to ‘bring your pet to work’ policies. Google is a fun place to work, but it’s also one of the most enviable companies to work at for up-and-coming tech professionals. This allows them to attract serious talent. To be fair, attracting serious talent also puts Google in the running for a more productive workplace, but that doesn’t mean the people who work there aren’t operating at a more productive level than they would be under different circumstances.
How to Foster a Happier Workforce
At this point, you’re probably wondering how you can go about transforming your own workforce into a happier, more productive team. With that in mind, we’re going to devote the rest of this post to strategies you can leverage to boost happiness levels in the workplace. As you’ll see, a few of them even relate to services that Message Direct can offer your company:
- Promote a positive work-life balance.
In some ways, this is a blanket statement that applies to many of the other points below. Even so, it’s worth pulling out and mentioning on its own. Poor work-life balance leads to burnout, and that’s never good for productivity. Your employees need time to breathe, relax and pursue their own interests. Never forget that they have lives outside of the office.
- Focus on reward frequency (rather than size).
As you’ll recall from the University of Warwick study cited above, giving someone something as simple as a chocolate bar could boost their productivity by 12 per cent. Small rewards given more often last longer than big rewards that are rarely given out.
- Encourage employees to do things they excel at.
Everyone likes to feel like they’re good at something. However, it often becomes necessary to pull employees off of their core responsibilities and have them tend to something more menial and less rewarding. Ideally, you want your best employees doing the things they’re best at. A good example of a menial task that can easily take over the workplace is answering the phone. If your receptionist is overwhelmed, hire an answering service rather than asking other people in the office to pick up the slack.
- Surprise your employees from time to time.
An unexpected positive experience gets our attention. When a person knows something positive is coming, they’ll still enjoy it, but it won’t have the same impact as a surprise. In the workplace, a surprise could take the form of a special lunch or an impromptu fun activity after completing a major project. Just make sure the surprise is appropriate and that it comes at the right time.
- Provide new experiences.
Life can get boring, even when we’re having fun. This is amplified in the workplace, where repetitive tasks can lead to a sense of inevitability. Try introducing a variety of positive experiences to keep atmosphere fresh. Rather than giving away a gift certificate or hosting a special luncheon every time you would like to recognise good work, try introducing new activities and opportunities from time to time.
- Set employees up for success.
We mentioned above how good it feels to be good at something. It’s also worth noting how bad failure feels. Regardless of how hard they’re working, your employees know when they’re not meeting targets. And they don’t feel good about it. This could be because you’re expecting too much of them. Remain sensitive to peak periods, when employees may be getting overwhelmed. If the floodgates open, consider outsourcing or hiring auxiliary staff.
The above are just a few ways to promote happier, more productive workplace. To be sure, the list goes on. In any case, the secret is to keep an eye on your employees to get a sense of how they’re feeling. And remember: it never hurts to ask them what you could be doing to make the workplace more enjoyable.