Tips on how to make your employees happy, and how you can measure it

This week, we’re posting an article from the Relationwise content marketing challenge. In it, Sophia Minter explores the benefits of a happy workplace and will provide you with useful tips on how to get happy employees and how to measure your company’s employee loyalty. 

A major misconception is that once you ‘make it’ in the workplace, you’ll have a successful life. The problem is that most people confuse success and happiness. However, as founder of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson states:

“Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”

Now that we finally recognize that happiness is a key factor to success, it’s imperative for employees to be happy at work. Currently, only 52.3% of Americans are happy in their jobs, meaning that only half of American companies are reaping the benefits of happy employees.

The Benefits of a Happy Workplace

The benefits of happy employees are extremely valuable. Let’s take a look at some of them on a subjective level:

  • Happiness encourages creativity
    With happiness comes greater freedom and flexibility of the mind, which in turn promotes innovation and creativity in the workplace.
  • Better employee retention
    This one is pretty straightforward. If an employee enjoys working at a company, he or she is more compelled to stay. On the other hand, if an employee is continually dissatisfied at work, he or she is more willing to leave.
  • Happy employees = happy customers
    There’s a direct link between employee satisfaction and happy customers. Customers want great customer service, which includes feeling cared for and appreciated. If an employee is happy at work, this will shine through customer service and be reflected in customer satisfaction.
  • Improved productivity
    A study at The University of Warwick found that happiness leads to a 12% spike in productivity. Unhappiness, on the other hand, causes a proven 10% less productivity. It’s easy to understand why. If someone is happy, their brain is more effective, they’re more willing to effectively collaborate, and they’ll invest more mental focus into their job.

The benefits of job happiness extend beyond productivity, however. A similar study published by Kluwer Academic Publishers followed college freshman into their careers. Nineteen years later, those who were happier were making more money in comparison to their fellow peers.

How to Make Employees Happier
There’s no denying the immense benefits of happy employees. That’s why it pays to invest in them.

But what makes for a happy workplace?

Here’s a list of five strategies to create a fun and engaging company that increases workplace satisfaction.

  1. Flexible Scheduling
    By providing flexibility with their work schedule, employees will feel less stress and can focus and concentrate when at work. This is not only beneficial for parents with young kids, but also for employees with hobbies, elderly parents, or relationships. A positive work life balance creates a positive mental attitude that can be carried into the workplace.
  2. Resources
    It’s important to provide employees with benefits and resources beyond the basics. This will not only create ease in their life when it comes to mentally straining decisions (insurance, day care, etc.), but will let employees know that the company cares about their wellbeing.
  3. Fair Pay
    While there are other ways to improve workplace satisfaction, salary does remain a big factor. Employees want to feel that they’re being fairly compensated for the work that they’re doing. If employees feel that they’re being fairly compensated, they’ll be more willing to be team players and put in the time and effort necessary for the company to thrive.
  4. A Fun Workplace
    A 2011 Unum Survey by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that corporate culture is critical to driving engagement, recruitment, and retention. Thus, organisations with a stronger work culture tend to cultivate happy employees. A characteristic of this is a lighthearted workplace where employees feel like they can joke around and build real relationships with one another.
  5. A Recognition of Accomplishments
    If employees feel appreciated for their hard work and accomplishments, there will be a stronger work drive. After all:

Achievement and recognition are high motivators for employees. If they take risks, reward them. Give them a coupon to go out for dinner, an extra day off, tickets to a show, etc. The small stuff adds up.” – Charley Polachi, managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search

Measuring Employee Happiness
After recognising the importance of employee satisfactions and the best ways it can be fostered, it’s important to have a strategy for how to measure employee happiness. That way, evaluating the effectiveness of the strategy will help you to determine what’s working, what isn’t, and any alterations that need to be made.

Here are some possible strategies for evaluating employee satisfaction:

  • Employee Net Promoter Score

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) measures the likelihood that an employee would recommend the company as a place to work on a scale of zero to ten.

  • Traffic Light Survey

A traffic light survey measures current happiness levels in order to compare them to future levels. Each day, three questions are asked:

  1. What mood did you arrive with today?
    2. What mood are you leaving with today?
    3. On a scale of one to four, how much did you like the tasks you did today?

Employees then choose between ‘super green’, ‘green’, ‘yellow’, and ‘red’. This system allows employees to express their true opinions while remaining anonymous.

  • Suggestion Box

A suggestion box is a simple yet effective way to reach employees and get feedback on general satisfaction in the workplace. While there may not be as many responses, the feedback received is typically specific and reliable.

If there’s a strong company culture, then a discussion-based evaluation can be useful and effective. A discussion is an open-ended channel that allows employees to speak their mind.

The Google Company: A Model for Employee Satisfaction

One company that’s doing an extremely good job keeping satisfied employees is Google. According to Forbes, 86% of Google employees currently say that they’re extremely satisfied with their jobs. The head of Google HR explains that this satisfaction rate has to do with a work environment that’s innovating, experimental, and fun. Along with the its work culture, Google offers ‘Googleplex’, benefits that employees can take advantage of such as free food, laundry services, a fitness centre, and on-site childcare. As a technology company, it’s vital that the employees are in a workplace that fosters innovation and allows flexibility for creativity.

Here are some of the claims Google has made regarding their employee satisfaction:

  • Meaningful Work

PayScale reports that 73% of Google employees find their work meaningful. By having a strong mission to make information universally accessible, employees show up to work not only to make a salary, but also to make a difference in the world.

  • Correct Compensation

Google pays well above market average and compensates employees according to hard work and experience.

  • Low Stress

While it is a competitive, high tech company, many Google employees feel stress free at the workplace and feel that there’s room for creativity and relaxation. The company encourages its employees to set ambitious goals for themselves and their team, but also focuses on helping employees learn from their failures.

  • Telecommuting

Due to Google’s free shuttles to and from work, less than a quarter of employees work from home. This is a great benefit, as employees are more easily able to collaborate, build relationships, and strengthen the company’s culture.

What Are You Waiting For?

The benefits of a happy workplace are so abundant that not taking advantage of employee morale is a disadvantage. By fostering an environment in which employees feel comfortable, cared for, and recognised, your company’s productivity will increase significantly, as well as customer satisfaction.

This article was written by Sophia Minter.