As science continues to unravel the complexity of human psychology and behavior, researchers dial in on what creates the most effective employees. One thing we know for sure is that happy employees are great employees. It makes for great business when ethics and bottom line go together. Nothing could be more accurate about creating a sustainably happy environment for the people who work with you.
Greet Your People
Whether you are a manager, executive, or first-year staff, making an intentional effort to say hello can go a long way. Regularly greeted people report feeling they belong to a team, they are genuinely cared for, and that people they work with are happy to have them around. People who are not regularly greeted are more likely to consider their workplace as bland, full of passive aggression, and lack energy. As a leader, you should never underestimate the power of the most straightforward strategies.
Engage in Meaningful Conversations
When was the last time you spoke to the senior manager that you helped hire a year and a half ago? It is unrealistic to engage in deep conversation with everyone every day, week, or even month, depending on your team’s size. However, as a leader, it is incumbent upon you to be the party that reaches out to others in finding time to have a chat. Occasionally it would help if you carved out time to speak meaningfully in a 1-on-1 environment with the people with whom you work. This creates a culture that promotes communication, and employees will be more likely to come to leaders when they have an issue. Alternatively, employees who feel they cannot speak to their leaders begin to resent them. In many cases, this leads to dissent among the team as the disgruntled employee expresses their concerns to other people. The solution is simple: talk to your people.
Encourage Workplace Health
Studies suggest that healthier people are 20% happier while people considered unhealthy are 8% less happy. Health is more of a driver of happiness than the individual’s perceived wealth. While there are many controversies in health science, businesses can benefit much to focus on areas of consensus. One area of agreement is around the need for exercise. The specifics start to raise debate, but one thing we know for sure is that physical activity is hugely positive for almost all facets of health. Another widely criticized area revolves around nutrition, but there is consensus among most experts that reducing sugar intake and other traditional junk food intake can have incredibly positive benefits on short and long-term health. Make your company and team culture one that promotes intentional thought about health. You do not have to schedule a company marathon immediately, but consider the benefits of workplace yoga, company sports leagues, corporate nutritionists, and more.
Promote A Sense of Fulfillment
Every person in your organization should feel that their opinions contribute to the company vision. This does not mean everyone needs a chance to pitch ideas to management or that everyone needs time to speak in meetings. Instead, this means that individuals should feel like they can have a real impact on the organization through their department, project teams, or even individual tasks. In smaller team meetings, allow for brainstorming sessions that include the entire team. As part of reporting on individual assignments, ask for process improvement suggestions, and encourage new ideas.
In addition to having an impact on the company’s future, fulfilled people feel that they have a positive impact on the world around them. Community service opportunities and pro bono services are ways to create a culture that empowers the world around it.
Check Your Own Satisfaction Level
If you aren’t happy, how fair is it to create an expectation that your team needs to be happier? We often find that cultural issues are only a symptom of a leader’s dissatisfaction in their life. Leaders need to love their jobs as much if not more than the people they work with. In many ways, leadership happiness is a pre-requisite to employee happiness. Maybe you aren’t connected to the company vision. Or maybe your manager is dealing with issues causing them to be unhappy, affecting you and the way you manage your people. These instances take someone with a growth mindset to break the cycle and foster a happier workspace.