Common sense will simply tell us that having happy employees is a good thing. Yet, according to Human Capital, a nationwide study showed that a staggering 1 in 3 Australians are unhappy at their job. So, how much attention should we really be paying to our employees’ happiness? If this is a crucial issue indeed, we might want to get our hands on fostering happiness among our workers.
What research consistently shows is that happiness is a key factor in employee performance. A study conducted by the University of Warwick found that individuals whose happiness was enhanced had an overall productivity increase of 12%. All of the 713 subjects attended an elite English university with some of the highest academic requirements in the country, and were asked to perform tests that consisted of solving as many additions of five 2-digit numbers as possible within 10 minutes, and completing a 5 question math test.. The study used comedy clips, chocolate, fruit, and drinks as stimulus; the control groups in which these were used showed a significantly higher score in performance tests than the groups that hadn’t been given the stimulus. Although there is no guarantee by this study that the productivity boost will be sustained by offering treats to your employees, the fact that being given both a material and comical stimulus measurably helped subjects to perform better is something worth examining. What this research does tell us, along with numerous other studies on the subject, is that human happiness cannot be divorced from conduct, and a happier individual will perform better in general and labour-specific tasks.
What are some ways in which you can keep your employees happy and productive? Take note, here are a few tips:
Have your employees take part in the process
Give your employees an active role in the creative process of the company. Have meetings where they can bring their ideas up and bounce off each other’s insights. Creating a space for employees to partake in the decision-making process generates a sense of ownership, thus increasing a sense of responsibility for the success of the business.
Acknowledge your employees’ efforts, especially if they’re going the extra mile and picking up more duties outside their obligations. A wise employer knows the value of their workers and makes them feel appreciated.
Employee appreciation can (and should) be shown in more ways than giving money, and by the same token, giving an adequate wage to your employees is crucial in how they feel and perform in the workplace. An interesting finding by an economics study conducted by US’s University of Oregon was the following: people are motivated by either fair and generous compensation, or no compensation at all. In one of the experiments, the study divided a group of 160 University of Haifa students into four groups, and asked them to answer 50 questions taken from an IQ test. All groups were given a fixed remuneration, but group 1 was simply asked to answer as many questions as they could, group 2 was promised a small amount of money for each correct answer, group 3 was promised twice as much as group 2, and group 4 was promised three times as much as group 3. Group 1 (which had no promised extra remuneration) performed moderately better than group 2, and both group 3 and 4 performed moderately better than groups 1 and 2. So, what does this mean? It means that the introduction of compensation decreases performance levels (psychologically explained, because the altruistic or intrinsic drive is taken away by compensation,) but when compensation is already present, a higher wage will produce higher performance. In another fascinating experiment in the study, 180 students doing volunteer fundraising were divided into 3 groups. The first group wasn’t offered any compensation for their work, the second group was offered 1% of the amount they would raise, and the third group was offered 10% – stressing that remuneration would come from the study organizers and not the organization they were volunteering for. The astounding results? The group which was offered no remuneration collected 8% more money than the paid group that collected the most money, and the group that was offered the most money collected 30% more than the group that was offered less. What this tells us is that a fair wage will boost up employee morale and this will be reflected in their performance, and that in general, people have an altruistic drive that has them do things intrinsically to improve their surroundings. Speaking in terms of your business, in which employee remuneration is a given, what we can take away is that factors that could make a measurable difference in employee performance are proper compensation, and stimulus in the workplace.
Be the leader your team needs
At the same time that you’re fostering your team’s fulfillment, you must be mindful of your own leadership role. Keep an objective eye on the functioning of your company so you may give corrections to the areas in which your employees are lacking. Organizations look forward to having someone who will keep the vision at the forefront of their everyday operations, and doing so with consistency and integrity is necessary for group success. It is also imperative to be approachable, so be sure to keep a welcoming attitude towards your employees so they may feel comfortable enough to come up to you whenever a question or issue arises. When employees feel that it’s safe to inform superiors about mistakes they’ve made, greater mistakes and financial losses can be prevented. Be the person your team looks up to and goes to.
Keep your eyes and ears open for ways in which you can make your employees’ work experience more enjoyable and proficient. As we’re learning with more and more certainty, productivity and a smile go hand in hand.