Inexpensive ways to enhance employee happiness

How essential are happy employees to profitability? Will they cost something? Perhaps.

But the rewards of happy and contented employees are well worth the effort.

A positive work environment has long-lasting effects on employee engagement, overall productivity and profits.

There is also a burdening cost of unhappy employees. Gallup's State of the Global Workplace revealed that 87% of employees in US were either not engaged or actively disengaged.

The study divided employees into three categories.

  1. Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organisation forward.
  2. Not Engaged employees are essentially "checked out." They're sleepwalking through their workday, putting time--but not energy or passion into their work.
  3. Actively Disengaged employees aren't just unhappy at work; they're busy acting out their unhappiness.

Actively disengaged employees cost the US economy $450 billion to $550 billion per year; the number didn’t take into account the "not engaged" ones. 

On the other hand, organisations that strove for workplace happiness saw higher levels of employee engagement. provided five inexpensive ways to keep employees happy.

1. Build ownership among your employees

You’ve got to get employees to feel that they own the place, not just work there.

One way to inspire that feeling is to have each member of a team become familiar with what other team members are doing, allowing them to bring their ideas for improvement to the table and have input in the whole process.

If the roles are not too specialised, have your workers rotate responsibilities from time to time. It will contribute to the feeling of ‘it’s’ mine.

When employees feel it’s theirs they don’t want the project to fail.

2. Trust employees to leave their comfort zones

Few employees want to do one specific task over and over again until they retire.  

Although managers might see allowing their staff to try new things as presenting a risk to productivity or places workers outside of their established place, it heads off other issues.

Don’t be afraid to grant them new responsibilities that will allow them to grow and become more confident in their abilities while making them feel more valuable to the organisation.

3. Employees are adults – treat them like adults

In any business there is going to be bad news. Whether it’s to do with the company as a whole or an individual within the organisation, employees need to be dealt with in a straightforward and respectable manner.

If you choose to keep your people in the dark about trying times or issues, the fallout could be a serious pain in the neck. “The rumours are typically worse than reality. In the absence of knowledge, people make things up.”

4. Money matters (But not as much as you think)

Compensation packages are a big deal when employees are hired, but once a deal has been struck the source of motivation will change.

Other sources of motivation comes from intangible ways like work challenge, purpose of the work, the opportunity to learn and contribute.

5. Perks matter

Some companies provide lavish perks to their workers such as massages, free gourmet lunches, ping pong tables and childcare facilities.

Like money, these incentives are less powerful motivators compared to in-job challenges and the feeling of being a valuable part of the organisation.

Top five tips for boosting happiness at work

Action for Happiness shared exclusive tips with HRM Asia to increase workplace happiness:

  1. Trust people – give them freedom within guidelines
  2. Help people see why what they do matters
  3. Give regular encouragement, praise and thanks
  4. Help people find and play to their strengths
  5. Encourage a healthy balance between work and life

Source: Mark Williamson, Director, Action for Happiness

Analysing the Workday advantage

Sandeep Aggarwal, Chief Financial Officer of Aon-Hewitt Asia-Pacific, shares his thoughts on the Workday finance and HR analytics platform. He says the cloud-based system is intuitive and easy-to-use, but still provides powerful insights across the functions.

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