Enabling A Happy Workforce

By Helen Shone, Sage HR Advice

Enabling A Happy WorkforceWhat does happiness look like?

There’s a business mantra that states a happy worker is a productive worker. But happiness is hard to quantify and even more difficult to create.

As an employer, you can’t just tell everyone to be happier and watch your profits grow. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. So what can you do? The first step is to find out what makes your employees happy at work, and build on that.

Getting along famously

A recent study by Samaritans and Simplyhealth concluded that forming positive relationships with colleagues is the most fulfilling part of a job.

The survey of over 1,400 workers revealed that 42% said that getting on well with their co-workers helped them to feel good at work.

The next most common reason for feeling good at work was having a positive work/life balance (40%), followed by receiving praise for a job well done (26%).

In comparison, only 14% said that hitting their targets was their top factor for feeling good at work.

Creating a culture

So this is a great place to start. Again, you can’t make people like each other, but you can increase the likelihood right at the beginning of the employment cycle.

Increasingly, companies see culture as one of the most important parts of the candidate selection process. Assuming that a candidate has the suitable qualifications and attributes for a job, have you considered giving them a tour of your workplace?

It’s sometimes a good idea to let them meet and chat to a selection of your existing employees, to see how they integrate with the culture of your business. It’s as much about an applicant getting to know your business as the other way round.

If there’s a positive reaction from everyone involved, then you can be fairly confident that they will all get on if the candidate takes the job.

The all-important work/life balance

Improving the work/life balance is an area with many different factors, some of which are more suitable to your businesses than others.

Some of the many ways to develop your employees’ work/life balance can be very inexpensive, or even free, with hardly any resource costs. Other than happier employees, the benefits can include:

  • Lower employee turnover, meaning reduced recruitment and training costs
  • Becoming a more reputable employer
  • Reduced absenteeism and sickness absence
  • Enhanced loyalty and commitment

Some strategies that you could think about include:

  • Organising open days or social events that encourage the participation of employees’ families
  • Introducing flexible work hours
  • Arranging optional activities, such as a walk at lunch or after work
  • Relaxing dress codes, perhaps just on a Friday
  • Discouraging employees from working on weekends or staying back late if not necessary
  • Finding out about childcare services close to your business for your employees
  • Meaningful keep-in-touch programs for employees on maternity, parental or any other form of extended leave.

Perhaps the most important strategy is to talk to your employees, finding out exactly what would make them happier in the workplace. Once you know the kind of changes that you could make, you could be on your way to a happier and more productive workforce.

For more information on employee rights and your duties as an employer take a product tour of Sage HR Advice.