The logic is clear. When people at work are happy, they tend to be more productive. While employers may have no control over how happy employees are in their personal lives, they can certainly make concerted efforts to provide a pleasant workplace. Mind you, it’s clear to mature, professional people that the office is not a playroom, daycare center or womb where their needs are greater than the needs of the business. However, employees can and should expect to have certain basic needs addressed in their work environment.
So, how do businesses go about providing an environment that produces an atmosphere of happiness?
This is the starting point. It begins with the interview and hiring process. This is where the business lays out what their needs are as to skills and expectations, as well as the mission and purpose of the business. New hires need to get a clear picture of what is expected of them and what they will receive in exchange. The more clarity there is here, the smoother the onboarding process will be.
In any new relationship, not just an employment situation, trust needs to be built. It begins with the employer. This is done simply by stating what you will do and then proving it with follow through. On the employer side, this may go something like this: “You will start this day at this time. We will have someone walk you through the initial paperwork and employee policies, show you around, and introduce you to your fellow workers. Your training period will be approximately three weeks long and involve….” On the employee’s side, it’s important to understand that, once hired, they represent the company. The business is entrusting them, to a degree, with the overall business reputation—especially in sales and customer service departments where workers interact directly with customers. The reputation of a business is everything! Demonstrating to your employer that you can be trusted to show up on time, do your best work on their behalf, and enhance the company’s reputation is critical to your success there.
Unless the business is in a specialty field where workers need to provide their own tools, all the tools necessary to fulfill the expectations of the job should be provided. There should be an awareness that the needs related to having the correct tools for the job, if not the best ones, are likely to change over the course of the business. Situations, where qualified workers are asked to “make do” with what tools are available, do not lead to happiness. Rather they lead to frustration. Hearing the word “new” when it comes to equipment, tools or strategies to improve the ability of workers to get the job done tends to increase morale. Workers feel cared for in the aspect of their professional lives, which leads to feelings of satisfaction and even happiness.
This point should go without saying, but since keeping overhead under control is a key element of business, remaining aware of the fair market value of the skills provided by workers can be ignored or delayed in acknowledgment. Healthy, growing businesses do not do that! Rather, they have someone in administration, human resources, or even payroll check at least quarterly what the “going rate” is for the services provided by their workers. The workers are likely to stay on top of this, and so should the employer. Employers who are proactive in increasing compensation or benefits have tremendously reduced turnover.
Opportunity to grow
Few workers will be satisfied to do the same job, the exact same way for years on end. This is especially true of millennial workers who may have seen their parents do the same job for years and complain the whole time about lack of job satisfaction. A whole generation of workers has likely heard, “If I could do it over…” from a parent or senior worker. These comments have not gone unnoticed. Today’s workers seek out jobs where there is opportunity to develop their talents further and, possibly to move into other areas of the business that interest them. When employers can provide mentoring and flexibility in the work environment, those workers will make “career moves” within the company rather than seeking them elsewhere.
Every business has a purpose beyond generating revenue. The purpose should be clearly outlined in the business plan and mission statement. It cannot be limited to something like “We will build the best widgets in the world.” The purpose needs to extend to the benefits those widgets provide to the customers. When your products and services serve a greater purpose such as providing clean water, relieving pain, extending life, or keeping the roads safer, workers can get behind that beyond being satisfied in just having a job. When workers find their purpose through the purpose of the business, they become more engaged, are proactive about improving their own skills, and the business as a whole. Effective communication between teams becomes standard and the organization as a whole improves.
Happiness on the job doesn’t necessarily revolve around having ping pong tables, free food, and a casual dress code. It’s more about the culture of the organization and the available opportunities for workers to trust the employer, be able to work to the best of their abilities and have opportunities for growth and development.
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