Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,“what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Employee happiness is in the doldrums (speaking of, if you haven’t read one of my most favorite books, The Phantom Tollbooth, go do it right now. Whenever I write doldrums, it makes me think of the book.). Workers are reporting low satisfaction with their jobs, and it’s affecting their ability to work.
Workers are reporting low satisfaction with their jobs, and it’s affecting their ability to work. Data from international polling suggests that job satisfaction is lower in the corporate world. A
Of course, there are costs associated with an unhappy workforce. Unhappy workers are typically productive and less likely to take on leadership roles. Unhappy employees are less creative and less likely to have good workplace relationships.
There are several things employers big and small can do to help combat unhappy workers before they become disgruntled.
- Create A Sense Of Belonging
One of the first things that businesses can do is help employees feel like they belong. Too many businesses are arms length organizations where employees come to work, do the work and then go home. The managers rarely ask for input or opinion and can most often be found behind closed doors. Regularly, this leads to employees talking amongst themselves and contempt gaining steam in the gossip mill.Companies can help employees feel valued, by engaging with them in simple and straightforward ways. Make sure employees have opportunities to work with and engage with each other. Recognizing individual and group efforts can go a long way in boosting morale. Have an open door for ideas, or create an idea box.
- Encourage Disengagement
Employers can also assist employee happiness by helping their employees disengage. It might sound like a bad idea, and while they’re at work, it is. But letting employees know that their lunch break and weekends are truly theirs is a good way to improve their wellbeing.Just letting employees know that they can disengage during their time off can be a bonus. Employees are more likely to trust and respect employers who say this because they respect their free time. One of the biggest problems in the workplace is that employees are always connected and may feel obligated to check email or return phone calls on their off hours. That means that they can often feel like they don’t have the luxury of switching off. But switching off, and enjoying other things in life is fundamental to employee happiness.
- Begin A Support Program
Of course, these gestures are all well and good. But employee wellbeing is a complex issue. Organizations should not be the final arbiter of employee happiness. Employee circumstances and psychology are a part of the equation. Employee assistance programs (EAP) are more involved than your average HR support. EAP services for employers include in-depth stress coaching and other one-to-one support. An EAP program helps to take the level of employee care to another level. This type of coaching is far better able to get to the root of employee issues.
- Encourage A Healthful Lifestyle
Employers can also do their bit to improve employee lifestyles. Many companies are already offering more than just typical health insurance and retirement contributions as benefits. Other perks like sponsoring a softball team or hosting a yoga workshop or bringing in a massage therapist are not just for the Googles and Facebooks of the corporate world.
- Recognize Progress
Most employees take their jobs very seriously, at least to begin with. They want to do well, and they want to perform to expectations. But they can often feel like their efforts are going unrewarded.There’s nothing worse than working 50 or 60 hour weeks on a project and not having that effort recognized. This is where management should step in. The companies that will be the most successful are those that reward success. Why? Because rewarding success is what will continue to motivate their staff. Working hard can almost be fun when there is that sense of achievement. Sure, it’ll be hard getting there. Good companies recognize that fact. But they also recognize that just paying out bonuses isn’t enough. There needs to be a personal interaction and appreciation too.
- Negotiate And Build Trust
All too often there’s a tit-for-tat attitude in businesses, especially in teams. Different players in teams can adopt this attitude, which can be damaging to their progress. For one, it means that every employee is always keeping tabs on all other employees. If employee A didn’t help employee B, then why should B help A?The trick here is to build trust. Team members should be able to rely on each other in times of need. After all, that’s an important function of a team. So it’s best if employees can avoid calculating the efforts of others. Teams come together in unexpected ways. So no employee knows in advance when and where they will be needed. That’s why companies that have trust and negotiate will succeed in the long-run.
- Make Work Fun
The last point that needs to be made is that businesses should make work fun. It’s one of those hidden benefits of work: being able to have a joke with your colleagues. When people can see the funny side of a situation, it actually boosts corporate culture. Humour is great for building teams and bringing people together. Companies in which people feel relaxed will tend to have the best outcomes and the most camaraderie.
No one of these elements will guarantee that all employees are happy all the time. Employers shouldn’t be afraid to switch things up. An ice cream social on a hot summer Friday afternoon might help employees feel appreciated and remind everyone that there is more to life than just 40 hours a week at the office.