Have you ever heard of The Happiness Research Institute? Situated in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, the Institute carries out ongoing studies into tangible evidence of the happiness and well-being of countries, societies and the people therein, on both professional and personal levels. Through its extensive research, they have discovered that the #1 source of contentedness is derived from having a sense of purpose.
Studies of actual job satisfaction demonstrate that purpose ranks top, and is twice as important to an employee as simply having a good boss (#2). Meik Wiking, the Institute’s CEO, puts it simply, “We need a sense of purpose.”
Providing Purpose is the Key to Employee Morale and Productivity
When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.
– Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
Now let’s — metaphorically-speaking of course — jump on a plane and head over to Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. of A., where we’ll find another organization which looks at people’s morale, motivation and satisfaction levels — this time, specifically in the workplace: the Boston College Center for Work & Family. In 2016, they published their study, “Employee Well-Being: A Comprehensive Approach,” which concluded that the five key elements of the happy and satisfied employee, rising above culture and location, are:
- Purpose: The satisfaction derived from your daily activities.
- Social: Establishing strong relationships with those people who support and care about you.
- Financial: Simply having sufficient financial resources for your economic security.
- Community: The sense of security about where you are.
- Physical: Being in good health.
This article will provide five ways, based on this research, to increase your employee morale (and, in doing so, their productivity) within the workplace. Enhancing your employees’ experiences, and making them more engaged in the business itself, is a vital part of business growth, and is key to its performance, regardless of whether you’re an industry giant, an established small business or a startup.
1. Professional development and internal promotions
We’ve all heard about “company culture.” This simple two-word phrase should reflect exactly what your company is about to both your employees and your clients, and an integral part of that is treating your employees as you would your clients and customers.
Sadly, many of today’s disengaged employees cite the issue of a profound lack of professional career development as one of the primary reasons for their insatisfaction. Yes, time and other restrictions can make regular in-house training, professional courses, and one-to-one discussions difficult to organize; however, all managers need to recognize the benefits of these, both for themselves, and their employees.
And promote internally? One word – essential.
2. Credit where credit’s due
William James, U.S. psychologist and philosopher, once said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Being acknowledged for what we do well is a basic human desire, and we expect a form of appreciation for that. This appreciation, if given in multiple ways, highlights your satisfaction with a “job well done” even more. It’s an essential part of what should be your company culture, too.
Rewarding performance can be verbal, written, financial or even through an unexpected gesture, like personalized gifts for employees. These can be a great way of demonstrating their efforts have been recognized and deserve a reward. A combination of some of these only intensifies your thanks.
3. Forget feedback… listen
Organized feedback sessions, on a regular basis, have been described as an important business tool for both employee development and performance improvement. However, in essence, it is simply listening. Many businesses (way too many, in fact) fall into the trap of constantly requesting feedback, and not actually listening when it’s given. Just take one moment to consider how absolutely frustrating that must feel to the employee concerned.
Feedback, when the tool is used correctly and effectively, resulting in positive actions and outcomes, will also help your employee understand your particular preferences, and will help you identify their strengths and weaknesses in given areas. It should be viewed as a discussion. If it’s not, then what really is the point?
4. Empowering all
Flexibility, business agility, and the immediate response are imperative in today’s digital technology-driven economic world. If your business, whatever its size, cannot provide a particular client’s required outcome, you are at risk of simply alienating them, and moving them to a rival company. It’s as easy and as quick as the click of a mouse.
One of the dangers to your ability to respond effectively is the old business model of hierarchical thinking, which disrupts the free flow of communications and, thus, its operations. A prime and often-heard example of this is, “Oh, I need to run that past my boss first.” Such time delays seriously impact upon the effectiveness of a business. The answer? Empower all, if you can. Demonstrate your confidence in those you have hired. The use of empowerment creates further in-house levels of cooperation and trust, more engagement from your employees in the business, and even in your good self.
5. Building connections through working together
Remember one of the elements mentioned in the brief introduction, that of community? People desire to feel a part of something. In-house collaborations (especially between employees whose paths would not normally cross) are a sure-fire way to increase the creativity, drive, and innovativeness within a particular project or idea, and thereby produce the required results quicker and more effectively.
Don’t worry, just keep your staff happy!
Keeping your employees fully engaged with your business brings many benefits, both personally and professionally. These five ways to increase your employee morale (and productivity) described above, if practiced devotedly as an essential part of your company culture, will drive your employees to greater things, and drive your business too.
So, how would you motivate, engage and inspire a workforce that has become disengaged from the business? If you have any ideas, experiences, or just comments you’d like to add, please do so in the comments section below.