The Effects of Being “Happy” at Work

It used to be common knowledge that efficient employees were generally happy, and most people thought they were happy because they were good workers doing a good job. Yet research in the past few decades has discovered that the causal relationship is actually the other way around: happy employees are what cause employee efficiency. Studies show that happy employees stay twice as long in their jobs, spend twice as much time focusing on their core work, take a full order of magnitude less sick leave, and consistently feel like they are realizing their true potential fully twice as often. Ensuring your employees’ happiness turns out to be one of the most important steps in keeping the efficiency of your workforce consistently high.

The first step in creating a happy workplace is to ensure your employees feel valued. Employee contributions should always be recognized to show appreciation. Some employee recognition ideas include using publicly posted praise, starting meetings with open recognition, and even writing simple thank you notes. One great idea is to use a peer-nominated traveling notebook. Just take a simple notebook with the first page giving praise like “Someone is thankful for the excellent work you do!”. Explain that each person who gets the notebook should wait until they are thankful for a colleague’s excellent work, then write in their name in the notebook and pass it along to them. As the book moves from person to person, everyone in the company will feel good not just about receiving the peer recognition, but also about being able to pass it along.

Another idea that works well is to ask your employees what kind of employee recognition ideas they’d be most interested in the company implementing. Even just asking them directly can be a form of recognition.

However, recognition of employee contribution is only just the first step. You’ll also need to engender a feeling of conviction in your employees so that they feel confident in their abilities. The best way to accomplish this is to make sure that any awards you give out are always nominated and voted upon by peers, not by management. Awards should not be top-heavy; instead of singling someone out with a monetary award, consider rewarding an employee for how much they help the rest of the team on a group assignment. This ensures that no one feels left out nor jealous.

For more great ideas on how to help make your employees happy, consider looking into using a human resources consulting group like O.C. Tanner. Their research into which ideas work and which don’t can help you to efficiently maintain a happy workplace for everyone.

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