As a proud owner of an oversized pair of rose-covered glasses, I feel the need to point out that many workplaces are great places full of happy employees.
What makes these employees happy?
A study from Robert Half International highlights, and explains, six factors that influence employee happiness. (The report is quite robust and I would recommend reading it, as this is just an excerpt.)
Right Fit for the Job and Company
A good fit entails both skills and temperament. Painting an accurate picture of the role and the organizational culture when hiring is a safeguard that can help you avoid skill alignment issues. When you set expectations by clearly communicating to prospective candidates what an open position entails, you greatly reduce the risk that they end up feeling surprised, unchallenged or disappointed once on the job.
“Practicing diligence in each step of the hiring process — from crafting detailed job postings to conducting in-depth interviews, skills testing candidates, thoroughly checking references, and giving them an opportunity to meet different people within the company. This process sets the stage for both employee and employer happiness,” says David Jones, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half Asia Pacific.
A Sense of Empowerment
Empowering your staff to make decisions on their own, or with minimal direction from you, improves employee happiness in multiple ways:
• Empowerment helps staff develop critical skills they can use to advance their careers and make greater, more meaningful contributions to the company.
• Empowerment makes workers feel more invested in the jobs they do because they are the ones making decisions.
• Letting go of the reins also helps team members build confidence as they realize they are able to make the right decisions.
• Empowered employees feel more comfortable questioning the status quo and suggesting new ideas. Large organizational changes or disruptions, like a staff restructuring, are less likely to knock these workers down.
It doesn’t have to break the bank to instill loyalty. Establishing a positive working environment can generally make your employees happier. Simply show your staff that you appreciate their hard work and dedication. Offering a sincere thank you for a job well done has a much greater motivational impact than many people realize.
“Fostering positive emotions through gratitude is easy and powerful,” explains Dr. Christine Carter, author of The sweet spot: how to find your groove at home and work. “The science on this is blazingly clear. There are loads of research studies that show how much higher functioning people are when they feel appreciated by their teams and their manager.”
Interesting and Meaningful Work
“Happy workers understand why their tasks matter and how they connect to the overall objective,” says author Todd Henry, who speaks about productivity, creativity and pass for work and leadership. “When there is a gap in that connection, people tend to drift and have difficulty investing emotionally. Employees who have a strong, through-line, that ties their work together tend to be happy, fulfilled and engaged even when times get tough.”
Gaining a sense of meaningful progress and achievement is particularly important to millennials. According to the survey, Robert Half conducted with Nic Marks, a sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment are among the strongest drivers of happiness for employees under 35.
A Sense of Fairness
Fairness matters deeply to employees. So deeply, in fact, that a single instance of unfair treatment — whether actual or perceived — is often enough to turn a happy, satisfied employee into one who is cynical and skeptical of the company.
What can managers do to improve fairness in the workplace?
• First, strive to be transparent in your decision-making. Be sure policies around pay, promotions, and projects are clear. Every member of your team should know what they must do to earn a new title or a higher salary.
• Give employees a chance to alert you when they feel a sense of inequality. Often, employees just want to be heard and know that their concerns are being taken into account.
Positive Workplace Relationships
A sense of camaraderie at work improves employee communication, cooperation, and collaboration. Staff cohesion also leads to greater innovation. Employees across the board say they have good team relationships at work. None of the recipients reported significant dissatisfaction in this area. This is good news for employers: those who say they have good relationships with others on their team are 2.7 times more likely to be happy on the job than those who do not get along well with colleagues.