5 Ways to Keep Your Staff Happy
How happy are your employees at work?
Do you know what makes them happy?
With happiness so high on the agenda in Dubai and around the world, and even more so this month around International Day of Happiness, we’re taking a look at what makes us happy in the workplace.
It’s not necessarily, the direct work environment that has the biggest impact on our wellbeing, nor the size of the paycheck each month that keeps us smiling. Research suggests there are five other factors to consider in order to be happy at work:
- Doing work that is challenging
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that there is a state of mind which he has called flow. During this ‘flow’, our minds are deeply engaged and creatively involved. We are fully engaged with life and enjoy it. If we could achieve this state at work, it would make the quality of our lives a lot better, but how can you achieve flow with work if you don’t really enjoy it?
Make sure you know your teams and what their passions, skills and interests are, and try to ensure the work is aligned with these. If that’s not possible, ensure they have work that is important, and challenging but doable so that they get a sense of achievement and satisfaction from it.
- Achieving closure on tasks
Accomplishing any task, including completing our work, gives us a sense of closure. Research by psychologist Teresa Amabile suggests that closure on tasks boosts productivity as well as boosting our happiness, motivating us to move on to the next task.
Completing tasks in a timely manner brings a feeling of closure, as a manager you can help by minimizing distractions in the office, so your team can stay focused when they’re working on something you want to achieve. Be realistic about deadlines and pressures, think about setting aside time for them to clear their email inboxes, or have meetings and manage day-to-day tasks in a controlled and managed way, rather than being pulled away from their main project with every email or meeting invite.
- Being in complete control of time
Having autonomy over your time and the work you do can bring you more happiness than money, according to a 63-country wide study published by the American Psychological Association.
Of course this means being able to choose your work as we’ve already discussed, but we shouldn’t underestimate the happiness-inducing power of a flexible schedule either. Allowing your team the freedom of choosing the hours and location of where they do your work (within certain boundaries of course) can make a huge difference to how they feel about the work they are doing, and the person/organization they are doing it for.
Time management coaching and training can also help employees feel like they have more control. Guidance on how to break jobs up into manageable tasks, avoid procrastination on tasks of priority and more, can really make a difference in how a job is viewed and enjoyed.
- Building relationships at work
It seems quite intuitive that having a friend at work will make you happier, but it’s been scientifically proven to be true. Encouraging employees to build familiarity with people at work, organizing teambuilding events and activities, and even just simply getting teams to have coffee or lunch together all help to achieve this bond-building. Volunteering as a team has a particularly strong effect as working for the common good not only brings the team together, but it also makes employees feel happier about themselves.
- Working without fear
Research has shown that if employees are afraid of losing their jobs, they are likely to be less communicative at work and less productive.
Nerves associated with presenting a case, losing a client or delivering results, can be productive, and accountability is necessary. However using manufactured fear to make people work harder/faster/more does more harm than good in the long term. Blue collar workers in particular are vulnerable to stress and loss of productivity if there is job insecurity, though this applies to your entire workforce.
Offering employees a space to work without fear can keep them productive and happy. One way to make your team members more accountable without instilling fear is to give them honest, open and ongoing feedback that lets them know where they stand and how they are progressing.
These five elements can make a real difference to the happiness of your people, the productivity of your team, and the quality of the work you produce, and as more and more companies wake up to the difference that simply have happy employees makes, the more focus there is likely to be on this in the future – it’s time to invest in it now.