Management Matters

What Makes Employees Happy?

Date Posted: 03/22/2016

What Makes Employees Happy

When people think of happiness they think of smiling, loved ones, success, good health and fortunes. Often when people think about jobs an image of bored or grumpy workers comes to mind. Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be that way! All employees can think of their job and picture smiles.

An important factor for employee happiness is role clarity. When you have all the pieces of a puzzle and know how to put them together, it is enjoyable. However, if you simply have a pile of odd shaped pieces and no idea what they make, you become frustrated. Employees feel much the same way about their positions. It is important that all employees know two things:

1) What is their goal. 2) How do they complete that goal. Your employees want to work for you, they simply need to know what is expected of them.

By making it clear what they need to do and how to do it, you enable them to be successful. It may be necessary to check-in with them to ensure their knowledge is where it needs to be and if not, give them more training. When employees are set up for success in this manner they can succeed and feel competent in their knowledge which make employees contented and happy! But we pay them, why should it matter if they feel good, you may ask?

While everyone enjoys getting paid well, money only motivates for so long before performance will wane. Money’s motivation is limited because it is an extrinsic motivation. When someone is rewarded extrinsically to do a task, their passion for the task is replaced with a desire for the reward. Sadly, extrinsic rewards only motivate for so long before becoming dissatisfying. In order to combat this dissatisfaction, companies have tried to simply give employees raises, more money for the same work. While this might work temporarily it does not solve the problem.

In order to keep employees happy and feel satisfaction with their work a few simple things can be done for any employee, from custodian to COO. You must offer your employees the opportunity to advance their professional goals. Employees want to feel competent in their position and once competent they will desire new tasks and duties in order to advance not only themselves but also the organisation. By offering outside training courses that interest employees they will see a clear way to improve themselves. By allowing them to pursue these interests you are allowing them to satisfy their own intrinsic desires.

Another factor is autonomy! By giving employees a sense of autonomy they will exercise their initiative and knowledge which could improve the whole process. Giving your staff the opportunity to prove themselves autonomously reinforces their abilities and knowledge and creates happiness through job satisfaction. Along with autonomy research has found that employees who can listen to music or are social with co-workers are happier. Self-chosen music is also known to increase productivity among workers, athletes, and professionals.

In order to further your employee’s happiness rest is crucial. Rest is extremely important for happiness for everyone. When we rest our bodies can heal and return our minds to a sharp and prepared tool, even in short bursts! Avoid giving employees shifts that are too long and if the work is particularly taxing on them, allow them to take breaks when they want. Employees that decide when they need to take breaks can find flow and enter higher states of concentration which leads to higher productivity. An added benefit of rest is that it will allow for a shift in perspective which increases problem solving ability.

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Employee recognition is also one of the most important factors leading to employee satisfaction. Giving recognition to employees for successes or work ethic boosts morale as well as shows your appreciation to employees. By showing recognition of an employee’s work you set up a dynamic in which your staff will work better and be proud of the recognition. This concept also acts on autonomy and competence because you are demonstrating your approval of their accomplishments. Employee to employee recognition is also important in creating a workplace culture of happiness and support. Inter-employee recognition improves teamwork and creates friendships between employees which also reinforce employee happiness.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy in their work. To ensure your employees are happy give them training, clarity, acknowledge their success, and enable them to progress professionally. If you do these things, you will have happy employees all around.

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