One study by the Social Market Foundation found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. Success and productivity could be more highly correlated with levels of optimism, social support and the ability to see stress as a challenge, rather than intelligence, according to research by Shawn Anchor. Employee happiness and job satisfaction are similar in that happy employees are satisfied and content in their jobs, but happy employees aren't necessarily engaged in their work. That contentment is merely job satisfaction, and though satisfaction is generally enough to retain employees, it’s not enough to ensure productivity. On the other hand, employee engagement does promote increased productivity. Here are six ways to promote employee happiness and boost engagement:
Freshen up the workplace Employees who control the layout and design of their workspace are not only happier and healthier, but also 32% more productive. The University of Exeter in the UK and studies by its School of Psychology found potential for improvements in employees’ attitude toward their jobs when allowed to personalize their workspaces.
"When people feel uncomfortable in their surroundings they are less engaged -- not only with the space but also with what they do in it. If they can have some control, that all changes and people report being happier at work, identifying more with their employer, and are more efficient when doing their jobs."
Provide autonomy Gallup found that 53% of employees say a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important” to them. Give employees a little room to work the way they work best; strike a balance between autonomy and structure and monitor progress. According to a study, long-term micromanagement can contribute to low morale, high turnover, and decreased productivity–in fact, a lack of autonomy is one of the top three reasons employees resign.
Encourage Friendships Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
Recognize Great Work with Great Rewards Recognition can not only improve employee happiness, but boost employee engagement. Employee recognition programs can result in increased individual productivity – the act of recognizing desired behavior increases the repetition of the desired behavior, and therefore productivity.
Feed Them A 2015 survey found that 67% of full time employees with access to free food at work are "extremely" or "very" happy with their current job. Whether it’s lunch catered once a month or a stocked kitchen, investing a bit in food for your team can do wonders for employee happiness.
Communicate A comprehensive study from Adobe found that 80% of employees prefer immediate feedback to annual reviews. Keep the lines of communication open between managers and employees–during reviews especially. Listen to employees and structure a feedback system around their capabilities and skills.
Download: Defining Employee Happiness
Download: How Employee Recognition Influences Attitude & Behavior in the Workplace