BUSINESS
04/06/2016 04:22 pm ET Updated Apr 06, 2017

Why a Human-Focused Workplace Is a Happier Workplace

A workplace that focuses on humanity is a powerful motivator and business driver. It calls for leaders that care about their employees' well-being, happiness and success, and employees that feel recognized and appreciated for their contributions to a company.

These key practices and behaviors that inspire positive employee behavior and deliver improved business results, are the focus of a new employee survey from our WorkHuman Research Institute. The survey results provide a blueprint for workplace practices that deliver greater employee happiness and higher retention. In particular the survey highlights one crucial finding: companies on the vanguard of creating a more human workplace stand to reap significant rewards in terms of people metrics and return on investment.

To more successfully build the human workplace, employee recognition must be at the forefront. Surprisingly, our survey found that 40 percent of employees have not been recognized by their respective company leaders in the past month. That number is far too high. While employees seem happy at work, we know more is needed to better engage the workforce and produce a sense of well-being, trust, optimism, and confidence that can propel a company's culture forward.

Here are three key findings from the survey that will help companies create a more human workplace:

1. Recognition significantly improves employee engagement, commitment, pride, and overall happiness. A happy, valued and appreciated employee is the most effective employee. Our survey found that when employees are recognized for their work, all critical culture metrics improve. 92 percent of employees said they felt more appreciated, 86 percent said they felt happier at work and 85 percent felt more satisfied in their jobs. Additionally, results show that recognition has a direct impact on employee engagement, as employees that were recognized in the month before the survey were more than twice as engaged at work than those employees who had never been recognized (66 percent compared to 30 percent). Engagement also directly correlated with happiness, as 97 percent of highly engaged workers said they're happy at work, compared to only 65 percent of disengaged workers.

2. When employees believe leaders actively try to create a more human workplace, culture metrics improve. When employees believe their leaders are creating a human workplace, meaning focusing on employees' needs and well-being, they're nearly three times more likely to feel their company cares about them as a person (89 percent versus 31 percent). We also found that recognition has a strong hold on employees' perceptions of leaders, as 84 percent of employees that were recognized in the month before the survey believed their leaders cared about a human workplace, compared to only 40 percent who had never been recognized.

3. Employees trust their colleagues most, but their trust in leaders has the greatest impact on workplace culture. According to our survey, 80 percent of workers trust their colleagues, but only 65 percent trust senior leaders. When workers trust colleagues, senior leaders and bosses, they are 25 to 30 percent more likely to say they love their job; however trust between employees and senior leaders has the biggest impact, as 82 percent of employees who trust senior leaders say they love their jobs, compared to only 43 percent who distrust senior leaders.

It is clear from these findings companies that commit to creating a more human workplace will experience improved employee happiness, engagement and intent to stay within the company. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to increase recognition in the workplace, and trust between employees and leaders. Those companies that can enhance key behaviors and practices such as recognition and trust, will unlock the discretionary energy of their talent and experience a more unified, human work culture that will give them a competitive edge to drive greater success.

Eric Mosley is the CEO of Globoforce, a social recognition firm and the company that created the WorkHuman conference taking place in Orlando, Florida May 9-11, 2016.