By Mike Jones, Better Happy Founder
It's always made business sense to have happy employees in a business, but it's not always been a necessity. Happy employees do better work, provide a better customer experience and stick around for longer. All of the above lead to increased profits. So why are we so much more focussed on it now than we have been?
Well not much longer than 50 years ago there were significant job shortages and most of our jobs were repetitive manual labour. This meant most employees didn't interact with customers, only needed to complete simple repetitive tasks and were unlikely to leave their job.
Today of course things are almost the exact opposite of this. Today if we are unable to support the health and happiness of our people it costs our business - and often sanity - a lot.
So how do we, amongst the already complex nature of running a business, support our people to be happy?
First of all, I would highly recommend reading my post on 'why businesses are the key to modern happiness' here as that gives you a deeper insight into what makes people happy. But if you've already read that or aren't quite ready to read the 3500-word long post, here are some tips.
1 - Get clear on your vision - communicate it regularly
People are happy when they feel they are growing. The old saying goes if you're not growing you're dying. Modern life is so comfortable this should be changed to 'If you're not growing you're unhappy'.
If there's no vision in a company a job is going to feel like repetitive work with no meaning. If there's a clear vision and employees can see how what they do is contributing to that vision, employees will feel the sense of purpose that is essential to human happiness.
2 - Set 3-5 yearly company objectives
Having a compelling goal - such as your company vision - provides purpose to people. But something that can drain motivation is having a big picture goal but not being clear on how to get there. Without breaking that vision down into smaller goals there can develop a feeling of hopelessness. By setting too many goals or trying to pursue too many potential paths a feeling of overwhelm can develop.
Ensuring each year your leadership team get together, look at the company vision and prioritise the top 3-5 things that could be achieved over the 12 months provides your people with a map, directions, and a way of measuring progress. Progress towards a meaningful goal makes humans feel happy.
3 - Push departments/individuals to set their own quarterly objectives
People feel happy when they feel they have value. When you encourage your departments and people to take responsibility for their own objectives - as opposed to passing down to-do lists - you make them feel valued. You indirectly communicate the statement 'We know you're more than capable of figuring this out'.
During the industrial revolution, this wasn't the approach. Management systems then were designed to ensure people carried simply repetitive tasks in the highest volume possible. People were used for the jobs machines are used for today. Therefore many managers and leaders still believe their role is to come up with all of the answers to all of the problems and then provide step-by-step instruction.
Moving away from this outdated process and towards a more empowering process leads to happier leadership and happier teams.
4 - Share wins and recognition weekly
People feel happy when they feel appreciated and liked. The best way to achieve this is by giving out positive recognition. Even those of us who think we're not bothered about recognition need recognition. It's hard-wired in our evolutionary development. The problem is the human mind has evolved to spot danger, that is, to spot what's wrong not what's right.
In any business, there's always a problem to solve, a customer that's not entirely happy, or a new thing to achieve. Combine this with our inherently negative minds and we have the potential for a high-stress environment where nobody feels appreciated.
Plan time at the beginning of your meetings to celebrate wins. Find as many ways as possible to systemise providing recognition. Again this will make you and your people happier.
5 - Personalised PDPs
As we already mentioned people feel happy when they are growing. Not only do people want to feel like they are helping their team/business grow, but they also want to feel like they are growing personally.
Ensuring that every person in your business has a Personal Development Plan that is checked in on at least quarterly is a great way to support their growth. A good PDP guides a manager to ask about their team members' personal and professional goals. Where do they want to be in 5,3 and 1 years? What support or training can we provide to help them achieve that?
It's not the perfect growth plan that contributes to happiness, it's creating a genuine belief in your people that their growth is important to the company.
Mike Jones Better Happy Founder
Mike founded Better Happy in 2018.
He now works with a variety of businesses ranging from small accountancies up to large organisations such as Travelodge on improving employee happiness. Mike's vision and the vision of Better Happy is 'Every employee happy, every business thriving'
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