Unhappiness among workers in America is costing a shocking $300 billion per year in lost productivity, the Gallup-Healthways estimates. The recent Well-Being Index shows that Americans are increasingly unhappy with their jobs and work environments. When people aren't happy with their jobs or their employers, they don't show up consistently, they produce less and their work quality suffers. A 2011 Harvard Business Review article stated that the level of happiness has a profound impact on workers' creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality.
Current American Psychological Association research findings show that people want contentment, love and happiness derived from meaningful work. They want nourishing personal relationships, a healthy mind and body, a spiritual core and a reason for living. But with only 24 hours in a day and all the competing demands of modern life, the question is -- how? Is it even possible? How can you as a manager, facilitate your employees' happiness and consequently increase your company's success as well as your own?
First you (as well as your company) need a defined mission/reason for being. With an established purpose, you can manage and prioritize the energies and resources to best fulfill the mission. Work and life have meaning when we feel what we are doing creates worth and is in alignment with what we value. There are five life factors that need to be kept in dynamic balance to achieve and maintain happiness and productivity. Understanding people's motivators will help you to structure your work environment and to develop products and services that truly serve your customers.
- Money and Other Means of Value Exchange
In today's world, money is the primary (and sometimes the only) form of work compensation. Yet surveys have shown that the most effective motivator for increased performance and creativity is when one feels that his or her work has meaning and value. Understanding what drives people is helpful when designing incentive programs to increase satisfaction, and consequently, performance. Show people how their jobs impact the overall success of the company's mission and tie their remuneration to their contribution to the objectives of the organization. That way they can comprehend how their efforts are intrinsic to the well-being of the company and be motivated to fully contribute to its success.
Human beings are inherently social. We need honest and positive connections with others to survive and thrive in the workplace, as well as in our personal lives. Healthy relationships will build trust and enhance openness and collaboration, instead of fear and reluctant compliance. Structure a participatory workplace environment and allow for some flexibility in work hours so that your associates have the ability to adjust their schedules when needed. When people feel that they are respected and trusted to perform at a high level, it encourages them to strive to do even better. Understanding human relationships, we can plan and act accordingly in business and life for greater productivity and satisfaction.
The American Psychology Association tells us that stress is a major cause of illness today, and oftentimes workplace stress is the primary culprit. Sick or unhealthy workers are unable to function optimally and their performance suffers. Unhealthy workers also cost the company more in healthcare costs and absenteeism. Encourage everyone to take their allotted vacation days. Time away rejuvenates the mind and body, and they will return refreshed and energized. Ensure that the mission of the company is clearly shared with everyone, so that they understand that their work has meaning. People are happier and can do more when they feel that they are contributing to a worthwhile purpose.
Human beings need community in order to survive and thrive. When your company is actively involved in the surrounding community you have a source of local support. Your community is also an excellent place to get input and feedback on your products and services. In today's global economy, your community encompasses the whole world, and that perspective will help you develop your company's offerings to best suit the market. Encourage and support volunteerism in the communities your company works in. Connect with nonprofits and other organizations that serve your market. For example, if your company sells products or services to small businesses, volunteer and affiliate with SCORE, the SBA's non-profit consulting arm for small businesses. This will contribute to the well-being of your community, and also give you valuable input about your customers' needs and concerns while strengthening your business network.
- Spirit A belief in something greater than ourselves sustains us when we are in pain, scared or in dire need. That same power enhances positive experiences and gives us more joy, compassion and energy. Recognizing the power of beliefs can guide your work policies to honor others' beliefs and facilitate their practice of them. When people feel respected for who they are and what they believe, they are happier and more productive individuals.
Increased productivity through happier employees can be realized with a modicum of energy exerted -- by you and your organization's leadership -- in the five areas above. To help you better achieve success and balance for yourself and for your organization, several resources have been made available to you at no charge.
Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis. By Harter, James K.; Schmidt, Frank L.; Hayes, Theodore L. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 87(2), Apr 2002, 268-279.
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Adapted from The Happiness Choice (Wiley 2013), by Marilyn Tam, Ph.D. She is a Speaker, Author, Consultant, and Board Certified Executive/Corporate/Leadership Coach. Formerly the CEO of Aveda Corp., President of Reebok Apparel and Retail Group and Vice President of Nike Inc., she is also a successful entrepreneur who has developed and built four companies. www.marilyntam.com
Ed Rigsbee, CAE, CSP, is the author of several books and over 2,000 articles on how to grow your business through strategic alliance development and Implementation. He lectures internationally on the topic. Contact him through www.rigsbee.com
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