Worker happiness is the path to productivity

One of the most important factors that plays into worker productivity is his or her level of happiness. Employees who are comfortable, content and motivated invest a personal interest in their work and are more likely to perform tasks more efficiently, gain skills more quickly and do a better job overall.

A recent study by The Wall Street Journal and workforce consultancy iOpener Institute of People and Performance shed light on just how much happiness is related to productivity.

According to the global study, discontented and insecure workers aren’t giving their best efforts. When employees are psychologically impacted in a negative way, they’re simply not as productive as they could be. In fact, research found happy employees are twice as productive, stay five times longer in their jobs, are six times more energized and 10 times less likely to take sick days than unhappy workers.

Two key rules
Last week, Harvard Business Review (HBR) shared two management “rules” with Time magazine on keeping employees happy and engaged, both of which incorporate aspects of the global happiness study.

The first rule was putting worker needs before the employer’s. Treating employees justly is a crucial part of developing a dedicated workforce. It’s very important to prioritize the business and its employees by giving workers the tools they need to succeed. Proper guidance plays a large in generating loyalty.

HBR’s second rule is giving employees autonomy. Giving an employee the appropriate amount of responsibility and control over projects shows their work is valued and that the employer has faith in the worker’s abilities. After giving someone command over a task or area, employers should consider removing obstacles that could conflict with the worker’s goal. It’s always important to give credit, and remember recognition goes a long way in building strong employee relationships.

Obeying the rules
When employers take extra measures to prioritize workforce needs and let employees take on responsibilities, they foster a nurturing, educational and productive environment. By taking into account the happiness study’s findings and these rules, employers can better understand what their role is in boosting productivity.

Communication is the foundation of any positive relationship. In training, around the workplace and in social settings, business owners and employers should talk frequently with workers and make themselves available and approachable.

Consistent, constructive and specific feedback helps individuals understand exactly what they should be contributing, according to the Journal article. In addition to addressing problems early, frequent one-on-ones gives employers a chance to praise good work.

Motivation among workers has gone down significantly in the past few years, the study found. Autonomy is an essential factor in upping employee motivation levels. Employers may consider assigning tasks to workers’ strengths. When employees are in charge of a project that plays off of their talent, they’re more invested in its completion.

In addition, happiness relies heavily on how well workers feel they fit into a work environment. Employees who don’t feel suited to their job, don’t share their employer’s values or dislike their colleagues are disconnected and de-energized, the Journal explains.

Meanwhile, feeling comfortable in an environment is also related to how fair a worker thinks his or her employee is. Employers who treat workers differently, don’t listen to employee concerns and don’t give credit and praise accordingly will find their employees to be resentful and inefficient. In fact, the newspaper reports unfairness has been associated with missing, broken and sabotaged equipment.

Long-term engagement is also a problem for business owners around the world. If employees believe they are doing something worthwhile, they’re more likely to keep energy levels up. It’s always important to maintain transparency about the value of work and to help employees diversify their tasks and progress into higher positions of responsibility.

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