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How Happy Employees Help Your Company

Satisfied, cheerful employees can take your company to the next level. Here, some easy ways to spread smiles and create a culture of contentment. If you want a healthy company, make your workers happier. It’s less difficult--and costly--than you’d ever imagine. Making your workers happy isn’t just nice--it’s necessary. Here’s why.

You know just the kind of employees you want: smart, responsible, and innovative. And hopefully, your staffers have all these go-getter qualities. But have you asked yourself lately if they’re happy, too? It matters--more than you may think.


Sure, a workplace filled with smiling faces is simply nicer. Yet the benefits go way beyond pleasantness. Think of those grins as the gasoline that fuels your firm’s engine: According to a 2014 study by economists at the University of Warwick, happiness makes workers 12% more productive.

One possible reason for this? It seems that happiness gives brains a healthy boost. Among other things, it stimulates the growth of nerve connections, sharpens analytical abilities, and increases memory and attentiveness. These changes, in turn, make people more creative and collaborative, as well as better problem-solvers. Happy workers also call in sick less often, which means their output is also more consistent.

So which side of the fence will your workers fall on? Will they be contented and cheerful, or restless and glum, sure that the grass is greener on the other side? The good news is that this is largely up to you. Here, a look at 8 policies and perks that have been shown to make workers happy. Most of them don’t cost a dime to implement; others are so inexpensive, you’ll want to put them in place right away. And you should.

1. Make Your Management More Transparent

When employment-survey company TinyPulse polled more than 40,000 workers in 2013 about what makes them happiest on the job, managerial transparency came out on top. Being open--explaining how the company is doing, as well as what decisions are being made about its direction, and why --puts employees in a positive state of mind. It requires more dialogue between workers and top brass, but the payoff is worth it.

2. Give Employees A Sense Of Purpose

When staffers feel that they’re contributing to a greater cause, they’re more likely to feel good at work, according to the Job Satisfaction Index 2015. The report, produced by the Happiness Research Institute in collaboration with TNS Gallup and Danish employee organization Kristelig Fagbevægelse, says this finding “could mark an overlooked opportunity to increase employee morale in many workplaces.” Indeed, the 2013 TinyPulse survey found that just 42% knew their organization’s mission, vision, and values . Make sure yours do--it’s a message that’s easy to convey through everything from meetings to mottos printed on your office products.

3. Help Your Leaders Learn And Grow

The Job Satisfaction Index 2015 also found that an employee’s relationship with his manager affects his happiness in a big way--four times more than his relationship with his coworkers does, in fact. It’s not always possible to gauge a manager’s effectiveness and likability from outside his or her team. So try conducting annual employee surveys about supervisors, with the promise of anonymity and no retaliation for candor. Providing managers with regular training on basic job responsibilities--such as how to give constructive criticism to subordinates, for example--can go a long way toward boosting morale and team performance too.

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4. Serve Up Some Snacks

There’s evidence that the way to an employee’s heart--well one way, at least--is through his stomach. One survey of 1,000 full-time office workers found 56% of them were either “extremely” or “very” happy with their job--but that figure spiked to 67% among those with access to free eats. Meanwhile, only 16% of employees said that they have this tasty benefit, making it an easy way to lure and keep top talent.

5. Let Employees Work Remotely Once In A While

When in 2016 TinyPulse asked remote workers to rate their job happiness on a scale from 1 to 10, the average score was 8.1, compared to 7.42 for their office-based counterparts. It’s not surprising, considering one key finding of the Job Satisfaction Index 2015: Employees’ happiness is closely tied to how much say that have in how their work is structured. “You empower your employees by trusting their integrity and giving them room to make choices and exercise some of their own judgment,” says Krishna Pendyala, founder of the ChoiceLadder Institute, which coaches people on how to improve choice-making skills, judgment, and personal awareness.

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6. Don’t Overwhelm Employees With E-mail--Especially During Their Off-Duty Hours

According to the 2015 Staples Advantage Workplace Index, a survey of more than 2,600 workers in the U.S. and Canada, a quarter of all office employees regularly spend time working outside the office, and 40% put in some weekend hours at least once a month. The most common reason cited for feeling perpetually on call? A constant influx of work e-mails. Instruct managers to make it clear which e-mails truly need an immediate response (an “URGENT” in the subject line can accomplish this). This simple rule can make your staff happier in a hurry: When international employee research and consulting firm ISR asked U.S. workers whether their job “seriously interfered” with their private lives, 34% said yes.

7. Be Generous With The Green

No, not money--greenery. Bringing a bit of nature indoors can have a subtle but profound effect. In one study, researchers found that people who worked in office environments with plants and windows gave higher ratings to their bosses, colleagues, and their jobs. Even if you can’t give everyone an outdoor view, you can invest in a few plants; many have the added side benefit of improving the air.

8. Acknowledge Your Staffers’ Achievements

“It’s very important to recognize and celebrate employees’ contributions,” says Pendyala. “If you go back to what people really care about, they want to know that they matter.” Just be sure to tie awards to the specific achievement, and tailor the recognition to each employee’s preferences and personality, says Karen A. Young, owner of HR Resolutions and author of Stop Knocking on My Door: Drama Free HR to Help Grow Your Business. “If someone praises me for doing well, I’m happy. If they praise me in public, I’m over the moon. But another person might just be embarrassed,” she explains. Her suggestion: Ask employees about the types of recognition they enjoy most, and keep their feedback in mind. By staying sensitive to their needs, you’ll be making them happiest of all.

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