Happy Employees and How to Get There

Every year, Gallup releases its survey of workplace engagement, and every year the picture looks bleaker. A Gallup study released earlier this year reported that 51 percent of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees are not engaged at work. Another 16 percent are “actively disengaged,” meaning they resent their jobs and drag down morale as a result.

A separate study by Gallup found that disengaged workers had 37 percent higher levels of absenteeism, 49 percent more accidents and 60 percent more errors and defects. Companies with low employee engagement scores also experienced 18 percent less productivity, 37 percent lower job growth and 65 percent lower share price over time. The numbers become overwhelming and unfathomable.

Come On, Get Happy

It may be stating the obvious, but in a recent essay for Forbes, Alan Kohll, founder and president of the health and wellness service provider TotalWellness, states “Happy employees are – for the most part – better employees.” Happy employees take less sick days, have less stress and contribute to a positive company culture. What’s more, they stay with a company longer, which reduces recruiting and training costs.

So if companies want more happy employees, what can they do about it? Trendy benefits like free lunches and nap pods are great, Kohll says, but to truly boost employees’ happiness, “employees need to feel empowered, respected and appreciated. Fulfilling these fundamental needs will take more than free beers on Fridays.” He offers these budget-friendly tips for boosting happiness:

Nurture social connections. Most employees need workplace connections to feel happy in their roles. The HR consulting company Robert Half reports that employees who have good relationships with their co-workers are 2.5 times more likely to be happy than those who do not. Employers should make an effort to provide opportunities for social engagement.

Stay positive. Employers should strive to be personal, encouraging, passionate and empowering during while interacting with employees.

Foster a work-life balance. Employees need to feel their personal lives are valued just as much as their professional lives. Employers can offer flexible hours, allow employees to work from home when needed and encourage employees to use their PTO.

Show gratitude. Employee appreciation is one of the keys to workplace happiness. Employers should genuinely thank employees for a job well done. Even a small amount of recognition and thankfulness goes a long way.

Listen. Employees want to feel that their thoughts matter. Employers should stay receptive and encourage employee feedback. For employees to be happy, they need to feel like they are a part of the decision-making process and that their ideas are valued and respected.