When we’re having a good time at work, wherever it may be now, we produce better results in times of crisis. How does this happen?
Do you watch the clock for 6pm so you can stop working? Do you look forward to Friday because the only good part of your life is the weekend? Do you hate Mondays? Or in your company are Mondays happy days because you’re once again moving towards ambitious and inspiring goals. Everyone one of us spends at least 1/3 of our lives at work, no matter where that may be now, so we have to spend it well. We need to be happy there. If this is the case, we will produce better results. Better results are the goal of every business.
But what is behind the word happiness? The subjective feeling of psychological well-being. Dictionary.com defines happiness as “a state of pleasant thoughts that results from success or something done well.” It can be both a process and a result. We can experience it when we do something we love and when it contributes not only to our own well-being but also to the well-being of others. This means that it is more than job satisfaction and more than the so-called “commitment” of employees.
Happy employees are more productive (+45%). They generate better sales (+37%) and are more innovative (+300%). Moreover, 39% say they would work harder if they were happy in their current position (Workplace Happiness Report 2017, One4all).
And what happens when this is missing? Unhappy, uncommitted employees cost organizations between $450 billion and $550 billion every year (The Engagement Institute). These huge sums include the cost of sick leave, burnout, high turnover, and poor workplace performance.
WHAT DO WE DO?
I have devoted many years to researching the subject of happiness in the workplace; it is something that really excites me. Driven by the desire for me and my colleagues to spend every working day enjoyably and to achieve strong business results, we looked into it deeply. I want to share some important lessons that I have learned and that are extremely useful to us in the current crisis situation:
- The culture of any company is key. At the heart of it are values which are the connecting element of people in the team. That is why in the last few years we have placed the culture of our company at the centre. We talk about it, we live it, we hire and fire because of their values.
- Every company must have a Higher purpose. These days it is not enough just to make money. The sense of happiness is associated with contributing to something greater than you, the company, or the business. The sense that you are part of something connected to positive change in the world, in people, in the quality of life. This has a strong impact on happiness in the workplace. How do we find a Higher purpose? You repeatedly ask WHY? Why do we do what we do?
EXAMPLE: Disney’s supreme goal: To use our imagination to give happiness to millions of people. Our supreme goal is to help them make educated choices. Better choice – better life.
- We need to have a clear long-term vision and strategy for its implementation. Everyone in the team must know what the vision is, recognize it and believe in it. It is then that we willingly row together as a team in perfect rhythm and the boat moves forward.
- Communication is open, regular and detailed. A lack of information creates rumours, intrigue and a whole pile of other problems that poison the atmosphere, undermine the culture and negatively affect happiness in the workplace. No hidden agenda, no policies and intrigues. In our team we use an online platform where you can give badges to people who have done something very well or live with the company’s values. You can also give constructive feedback in real time – personally, and far from the eyes of all your colleagues.
- Personal contribution – Everyone should be aware of their goals and priorities, as well as the bigger picture of the company and how he/she fits into it. After analyzing several platforms, we chose the best software for our needs; one in which everyone can see their personal goals, and those of the team and the company. On a weekly basis, we monitor how each action of each team member affects the company’s results. This is accessible and visible for the entire team.
- Unique abilities: the use of our strengths and recognizing our differences to achieve better interaction. There are many tools that can be used to analyze every member of the team in order to know yourself better and the people you work with. In our company everyone has a DiSC profile and this profile is shared with all the other colleagues. It provides information about working approaches in communication with the person, in accordance with his/her profile.
- How do we measure happiness in the workplace? There has been much discussion on the topic. In our team we have chosen the metric eNPS (employee net promoter score). This is a regular survey among employees who have to answer the question: on a scale from 1 to 10, to what extent would they recommend the company in which they work to their friends. The results of eNPS vary from -100 to +100. When we started working on the values and culture of our company, the measurement showed a result slightly above zero. At the beginning of this year we are proud and happy with our 92.4 score, which is an extremely rare and difficult result to achieve.
What about workplace happiness in a pandemic? Is it possible?
Today, we are all in a very different and challenging environment. We are working from home, trying to concentrate or participate in a business conversation. The children are shouting, the dog is barking, your husband is talking loudly with his business partner. How can we not be infuriated?
We can’t see our colleagues. There’s no social life and no vacation travel. How can we maintain team spirit, happiness at work, how can we help people feel it?
Many leaders try to find the right path and take care of their people. This year many companies have hastily created new policies and procedures tailored to the challenges of the pandemic and working from home.
What has changed since the onset of the workplace pandemic?
- Employees are trying to cope with the work, this leads to stress and insecurity
- Less communication. There is a lack of informal, natural and casual conversations between colleagues. We don’t have a relationship with them, we can’t go to the office.
- When we work alone at home, we become a little more independent and self-sufficient
- The need for trust between colleagues is reinforce
How in this situation can we preserve the health, commitment and happiness of our employees? The subject of happiness in the workplace is slightly different today. A 2daysmood survey shows the following 4 categories and indicators that make employees happy during Covid.
- Work-life balance
- Coping with stress
Support from the company:
- Empathy on the part of management
- Concern for employee well-being:
- Transparency and openness in the company
- Performing work tasks
- Commitment and collegiality
- Optimism for the future
- Work plan overload
Interaction between people:
- Expectations at work
- Effective communication
- Easy contact with colleagues
If well-being becomes a priority of the organization, it will lead to greater understanding between employees and positive changes in communication.
- When employees feel greater trust from managers, optimism about their future in the company is greater.
- When an organization is concerned for the well-being of its employees, we see that they (1) commit to additional challenges and (2) willingly accept and provide more support.
- When an organization acts transparently, employees show significantly less negative emotions and irritation
EMPLOYEE HAPPINESS IN THE FUTURE
What subjects are important to achieving a higher level of employee happiness? The most power external factors are remote working, the new wave of Covid-19 and economic decline.
Most organizations and employees will continue to work from home and create a hybrid culture. A lack of connection and a reduced work-life balance can be a major risk to well-being and activity.
Therefore, I believe that the following subjects will be a priority on the agenda of those companies that think about happiness in the workplace.
PERSONAL WELL-BEING AND STABILITY
Do employees feel sufficiently well both mentally and physically to give the best of themselves when performing their duties? Can they learn to cope better with the stress of the working process and the stress of remote work? Do both sides – employer and employees – take responsibility for this?
INDEPENDENCE AND SELF-MANAGEMENT
Can employees motivate themselves when working remotely? Are they able to set the right priorities and be constantly “bound” to the strategy and aims of the organisation? Can managers give them the confidence they need?
EXPERT ADVICE: Professor Teresa Amabile of the Harvard Business School in her research found that giving greater autonomy was an important catalyst in achieving good results.
PURPOSE AND SATISFACTION
After all the changes, are the core values of the organization still visible and achievable for employees?
Can they still associate themselves with the vision and goal of the company? Do they still experience satisfaction with their work, even though they have less contact with colleagues and the organization?
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
Are employees receiving enough new incentive when they are working remotely? Can they continue to evolve? Are they flexible in these uncertain times when organizations are taking new paths and taking bold decisions?
EXPERT ADVICE: Management guru Ben Tiggelaar has warned that long-term work from home does not provide enough effective incentives for good performance.
COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY
Can employees and managers maintain their improved communication style, resulting from Covid? How can they maintain a good balance between communicating with clear messages and listening to feedback? Is virtual communication between departments and teams energetic and effective enough?
Maria Gergova-Bengtsson is the founder and owner of United Partners – one of the leading PR agencies in Bulgaria and the region. Maria and United Partners have won numerous national and international awards in the field of corporate and marketing communications. Maria is also a member of the board of directors of the International PR Association and was its president in 2009. She was actually the first President from Eastern Europe in the organization’s 69-year history. She was among the founders and until recently was chairman of g10 (BAPRA). Mentor at Richard Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurship and former president and founder of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) for South-East Europe.