Knowing how to create a happy workplace is crucial to the success of any organisation. According to a study by Oxford University, employee happiness can increase productivity by as much as 13%, as well as the company’s bottom line. Indeed, a study by Glassdoor showed that the annualised returns of the top 100 companies to work for generated 8.3% higher profits than the top-listed companies on the US stock exchange.
A study by VoxEU further confirmed this boost in profits thanks to happy employees. Those researchers found a positive link between employee well-being and employee productivity, the firm’s productivity, and customer loyalty, as well as a decrease in staff turnover.
The fact is happy employees in a happy workplace can improve business performance in more ways than one.
The more happy your workers are, the better decisions they make, the less likely they are to leave their jobs, the better they are likely to become at their job, the less likely they take days off, the more creative they may become, and the more they make others around them happy.
We’re suggesting 15 simple things you can do to make your employees happier in the workplace and make significant improvements to their overall well-being.
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1. Listen to your employees
In many workplaces, employees are often defined by a command relationship with their employer or manager, where one person talks (gives orders or feedback) and the other person listens, obeys, and adjusts deliverables to match feedback.
However, building the workplace relationship in this one-directional structure can make some employees feel unmotivated or unlikely to provide feedback on how to improve the workplace – which in turn makes management ignorant to possible workforce improvements they could make.
This is also known as the “CEO disease”.
This kind of mindset is harmful to employee wellbeing, satisfaction, fulfilment, and productivity.
When management does not request or value the opinions and suggestions of workers, they may not feel they are important to the ultimate mission of upper management. In turn, they may sense that the whole company vision is the affair of the powerful and that they are just here to do the will of their superiors.
Everyone wants to feel valued and important to the people they spend their time with and for. Therefore, a good way to make employees happy in the workplace is to regularly ask for their opinions and suggestions when management is making decisions that are relevant to them. The more valued they believe they are, the happier and engaged they will become.
In fact, a report by Salesforce shows that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to do their best job.
2. Make work meaningful and purposeful
Similar to the first point, management needs to make employees realise that their work is meaningful and purposeful. To do this, you need to consistently restate how your company benefits its customers (and other stakeholders), as well as how an employee’s daily grind contributes to that ultimate mission.
In the 2018 Meaning and Purpose at Work report, published by Better Up, a leadership development platform, 90% of those surveyed were willing to trade a portion of their lifetime earnings for more meaning at work. This finding shows that a sense of meaning and purpose is crucial to creating happy employees.
Zappos, a US clothing line, does this by ensuring that every new worker spends two weeks in the customer service line talking with actual customers so they can see the end value of their work.
For your management team, this can mean compiling interesting case studies of how your company’s goods and services have impacted some customers and printing or publishing it for every employee to see.
Testimonials are also a way to show how their work is being appreciated by customers.
For HR, these case studies can be used to reward and acknowledge employees that have been integral to these successes. For example, “by investing 8 hours of your time daily to keep our app operating smoothly, you have helped these customers to …”
Without this sense of fulfilment, employees can become frustrated, unmotivated, and uninspired. However, when shown their work matters, they can become fired up to do their job better than ever.
“The best benefit you can provide to your employees is the opportunity to make a difference through their work and help guide the course of the company,” said Anthony Smith, CEO of Insightly, plainly underscoring the point.
3. Create team bonding opportunities
With the amount of time the average worker spends at the office, work often becomes an important part of their lives. When you spend more time with your co-workers than your family and friends, it can be beneficial for employees to develop more friendly relationships with the people they spend a big chunk of their time with.
As long as their fellow workers are strangers that they could care less about, the workplace will not be as happy and positive as it could be. However, when professionalism is mixed with a naturally friendly environment, the workplace can become more motivating, creative and productive.
A study by Gallup has shown that enabling close friendships at work can increase employee satisfaction by 50% and improve employee engagement 7 times.
Your company can achieve this by sponsoring some regular fun events (during company celebrations, public holidays, or over the weekend) inside or outside the workplace where employees can meet and bond. You can do this at a departmental and a company-wide level.
Moreover, management can also connect this point with the second one on this list by organising charity or volunteering events. In this way you can combine both the bonding and work-life fulfilment ingredients of employee happiness at once.
4. Prioritise and incentivise wellness
Companies often invest in their employees’ happiness by encouraging healthy living: yoga, exercise, healthy eating, leisure time, among others.
As we all know, health is wealth and sickness or fatigue can be directly linked to unhappiness. The more healthy your workers are, the less likely they will take sick days off the job.
Good health is connected to higher productivity.
A report by Aflac, a US insurance company, has shown that millennials in particular consider health and wellness programs offered by companies when making a job decision. More importantly, the report shows that holistic wellness programs actually help employees make better choices and positively change their lifestyles.
In addition to promoting wellness, your company can also incentivise it to ensure more buy-in. Instead of only talking about eating healthy, you can organise a potluck or pay for them to attend a cooking or exercise class as a team-building activity.
5. Promote work-life balance
An essential part of wellness is helping employees achieve work-life balance. As much as work is important, the average worker also has family and friends that are important to him or her as well. When there is trouble at home or with friends, it can spill into the workplace since an unhappy worker is an unproductive one.
This trouble often occurs when employees spend too much time at the office or are so regularly stressed and burnt out to spend quality time with family and friends. A survey by CareerBuild shows that this is a common problem: 61% of employees are burnt out on the job, resulting in poor physical and mental health.
The more balance between work and life that a worker can achieve, the happier and more satisfied they become.
It is part of management’s job to help their employees with this. A survey by Glassdoor showed that 87% of workers expect their employer to contribute to the achievement of this balance.
One easy way your team can do this is by offering more flexible work schedules. An example is allowing some of your workers (depending on the nature of the work) to work from home once in a while or even more regularly.
To make this feasible, you can also start measuring the performance of employees by their deliverables rather than the number of hours they spend at work.
Similarly, normalise breaks even during work hours. Work-life balance means that employees don’t need to be burnt out at work every day. Screen breaks and lunch breaks should be normalised and encouraged. Try as much as possible to also avoid giving them work to do on weekends and during their annual leave and other leave.
[NOW Money helps to improve the work-life balance of your employees by providing a free mobile bank account for payroll that is attached to a payroll card and mobile banking app, no matter the employee’s level of income. This digital payroll system is built for employers as much as employees, allowing workers to access international mobile remittances, mobile recharges for friends and family abroad, and giving them more free time and security.]
6. Avoid discrimination
An important part of knowing how to create a happy workplace is avoiding and removing all sorts of discrimination. This means that employment, remuneration, training, and promotion decisions must be based on merit rather than gender, age, etc.
When there is discrimination, workers will notice and dissatisfaction will set in.
“Discrimination results in and reinforces inequalities and could result in poor morale of employees, high turnover, poor commitment and subsequently result in negative impact on the organizational performance,” according to a study published in the International Journal of Advanced Academic Research.
Therefore, companies must not only avoid discrimination, they must also avoid any appearance of it.
Merit should hold a place of importance and every worker must be convinced it is so.
One way to be sure you are not discriminating is to keep an eye on your payroll system and ensure that you are not paying one worker less than another for doing the same job. If situations like these exist, do a deep dive to ensure it is not a result of any form of discrimination.
7. Create a clear career path
Another key consideration in learning how to make employees happy in the workplace is creating a clear career path for them.
When employees can’t see how their current hard work will lead to greater benefits in the future, they will be demotivated. Having a clear goal to shoot for is not only motivating but also inspiring. This is also crucial to a sense of fulfilment, which is foundational to happiness.
An employee should always know what he or she will need to do to take the next step on the ladder. Similarly, he or she must know what that next step is.
In short, employees must be aware of the career opportunities that await them down the road.
8. Invest in workers’ professional and personal growth
In addition to showing your employees a clear career path, you should also invest in their professional and personal growth.
At the professional level, this means taking some financial responsibility for their career development: such as by inviting them to participate in courses, seminars and other professional events.
Not every employee is self-motivated. Therefore, you can also take the initiative by regularly discussing their future plans with them and nudging them forward when they seem too comfortable to push for growth.
Some companies have also allowed employees to take one paid day a year to volunteer for a cause of their choice or get experience in another field. This encourages personal and professional growth outside of a specific career path.
You can also bring in a life coach for some sessions, or sponsor them to attend one such event outside of the office. The goal is to help your employees become better all-rounded people and workers.
A combination of the two – professional and personal growth – will help keep your employees motivated and happy.
9. Support innovation
In point 1, we discussed the importance of listening to employees and creating the feeling that they are valued. Related to this is creating a culture that supports innovation.
A workplace that is too rigid or conservative will be unresponsive to the legitimate feedback of the employees. This will naturally lead to an unhappy atmosphere.
What is the point of being innovative when all your ideas will be rejected at every turn?
“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not as a threat,” so once said Steve Jobs.
Again, employees who feel that their voice is heard will be more engaged at work, according to Salesforce.
Bosses can instead focus on holding brainstorming days to create an environment for the open exchange of ideas.
Other activities include mixing up teams once a month, or holding a joint meeting to discuss quarterly road maps in an open way that allows for constructive input.
10. Create a positive work environment
What is as bad as deterring innovation is creating a work environment where no one even wants to give ideas for innovation in the first place.
The fact is simple: Positivity in the workplace is integral to creating happy and productive employees.
“A positive work climate also leads to a positive workplace culture which boosts commitment, engagement, and performance,” according to the Harvard Business Review, “A happy and caring culture at work not only improves employee well-being and productivity but also improved client health outcomes and satisfaction.”
Creating a positive work culture depends on having a workplace that values:
- Friendliness: A workplace where everyone smiles at, cares for, and assists each other.
- Mutual respect: Respecting other people preserves their sense of dignity and worth. A positive work culture will prioritise mutual respect.
- Professionalism: This is the ability to combine friendliness and mutual respect without going to extremes on either side.
- Gratitude: In a positive culture, everyone appreciates everyone else’s kindness.
- Open dialogue: Nurture a work culture where interpersonal problems are confronted openly and fairly.
- Honesty: Honesty still remains the soul of business.
- Transparency: Avoid any form of discrimination and double standards.
- Forgiveness: Offences in social settings may happen. Nurturing opportunities is crucial to maintaining positivity.
11. Normalise praise and recognition
Positive feedback for a job well done will make most employees happy. In fact, a study by Work Human reveals that 89% of HR leaders agree that feedback and recognition are important for creating successful companies.
How can you normalise praise and recognition?
First, as an employer or HR person, you must regularly praise workers when they have done well. Second, you must create a culture where workers praise each other.
This can involve creating departmental or company-wide awards to reward performances or allowing workers to praise each other’s work at various meetings. Even when you have to review someone’s work, preface it with some praise.
12. Give meaningful rewards
You can’t praise and recognise people’s efforts without also giving some rewards. However, rewards should be distinguished from awards. While you can award the most diligent worker of the year, or what have you, you should reward everyone who has done their job well.
In today’s work environment, some rewards and perks have even become more crucial to employees than their monthly salaries. It’s no longer enough to just pay a salary.
A study by USA Today shows that 48% of workers will consider the perks available before considering a job. In fact, 67% of those who work where they eat free lunch every day are extremely or very happy at their job.
These benefits/rewards/perks can include special gifts on workers’ birthdays, a higher number of leave days, paying for their professional growth, employee stock options, a 13th-month salary bonus, wellness programs, comfortable space for workers with children, etc.
13. Leaders should set examples
As an employer or an executive, you must set an example in the workplace. If you want a culture of professionalism and mutual respect, set an example. Where the head goes, the whole body follows.
Once the employee can smell hypocrisy, they become less motivated to contribute to creating a positive work culture, which can impact the whole environment.
“In my experience, employees rarely become unhappy or leave solely over money,” said Gary Beasley, CEO of Roofstock. “When they do become disenchanted, it is usually because they don’t like their boss, aren’t engaged or feel like they have stopped learning.”
His point is that the attitude or character of bosses contribute to the happiness of workers. Therefore, bosses must set good examples if they want a happy workplace.
14. Keep employees informed
Listening to employees is one way to communicate that you value them. Keeping them informed is another one. By keeping employees informed, we mean keeping them in the loop regarding the direction the company is taking and the challenges it is facing.
There are many benefits of keeping employees informed in this way. First, they feel valued as important parts of the organisation. Second, by feeling valued, they become more committed to doing their best to contribute to the company’s ultimate mission and success.
This means more innovation, creativity, and productivity.
“If you have an informed workforce, and people know what’s going on with your organization, they’ll give it the time of day,” said GaggleAMP, an employee advocacy platform. “They’ll think about what’s going on in the organization, and they’ll care more about it. So keeping your employees in the loop leads to higher levels of employee engagement.“
Third, keeping employees informed increases the chance that they will stay for the long term. “When your employees know that they are well informed, they will be happier in their work and more likely to stay on long-term,” according to Alliance Insurance.
To reap these benefits of keeping employees informed, you must improve your internal communication and get employees involved in decisions and choices that will affect them.
15. Pay salaries on time
Though perks and rewards have become important, failing to pay your workers their salaries when due is a recipe for an unhappy workplace. When this happens, workers become disgruntled and unmotivated. Therefore, you cannot learn how to create a happy workplace without paying workers on time – including any promised commissions and bonuses.
If you are in the UAE, ensure you understand and follow the WPS (wage protection system) guidelines and make payments through your WPS agent on time.
At NOW Money, we help companies set up payroll systems easily, allowing companies to make flexible payments for salaries and commissions so you motivate workers to perform better.
[Sign up at NOW Money to start making your employees happy by improving your payroll for salaries, commissions and bonuses, or first tell us more about you and we’ll get back to you with the best way to move forward.]
- Happy employees in a happy workplace are more productive.
- Happy employees are less likely to leave or take many days off. Also, happy employees make better decisions, are better at the job, and are more creative and innovative.
- Creating a happy workforce involves creating a positive work environment where workers are informed, valued, rewarded, and supported.
- To make employees happy, you must create a clear career path for them, invest in their professional and personal growth, praise and recognise their efforts, and set good examples for them.
- You also need a smart, effective, and flexible payroll system to ensure you are paying them the right amount at the right time.