Some of my friends contend that since the Harvard Business Review went full-color and glossy, it’s gone a little soft on content. I’m certain said friends felt vindicated when getting a gander at the cover of the Jan/Feb issue on the hard-hitting, business topic du jour: happiness.
Has the magazine gone soft? Or have American companies gotten hip to the fact that happiness is serious business?
When we talk about happiness at work, we’re talking about many of the same things that we consider when building great workplaces or increasing employee engagement.
Sure, the concept may be totally new to some, and perhaps referring to it as “happiness” is deliberately intended to be a little polemic, but many companies are already bought into employee happiness, even if they’re not referring to it as such.
Here’s my high-level summary on how companies can have happier employees.
Make your employees happier by giving them these five things:
1. A sense of meaning. Whether on the widget-line or in the executive suite, every employee feels happier knowing that their hard work benefits not just the business but the larger world.
2. Opportunities for growth. People are happier when they are learning, and they are happier doing their jobs when they have continuous opportunities to grow. A lot of those people are even happier when they know that growth is helping them get to the next rung on their desired career ladder … or lattice.
3. Freedom to have a life. Employees are people and if you think of them as Administrative Assistant III—instead of as Sandy, mother of three, studying for her master’s degree, elderly father lives with her—employees will probably be pretty unhappy. What behaviors and practices do you need to have in place in order to support your employees as people?
4. Your ears. Knowing that management listens and actively solicits ideas and opinions from employees genuinely makes them happier at work.
5. Their fair share. Bigger paychecks and fat bonuses do not magically create happier employees. However, employees need to feel like they receive a fair share of the “rewards” and have their basic human needs accommodated.
If your employees are worried about survival, or sky-high health care premiums, or not having a retirement account, attitudes suffer. Much of what makes people happy at work, is what makes them happy in life, and having the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy accounted for, is a big first step.
What do you think your employees need in order to be happy?
Leslie Caccamese is a senior strategic marketing manager at The Great Place To Work Institute. This article first appeared on The Great Place To Work blog.