In the past, we’ve talked quite a lot about employee wellness, and how you as a company can improve your employees’ wellness across the board. What if we told you that employee wellness (the concept of keeping your employees healthy and reducing stress), isn’t everything? That one of the key ingredients to a happy, well-performing workforce is to make sure they are, well, happy? With #InternationalWeekofHappinessatWork coming up, we wanted to take a moment to talk about what employee happiness really means, how it could benefit your business, and what you could be doing to improve it.

Why employee happiness matters

Employee unhappiness is, unfortunately, one of the most unrelenting problems in the corporate world. Most companies are dealing with unhappy, unengaged employees in some fashion, with studies suggesting that only 33% of employees are engaged at work (with the world best organisations still only making the 70% mark). Unengaged employees lead to unhappy employees, and unhappy employees are pretty bad for business – and there’s some pretty compelling evidence to prove it.

According to a new report (The Financial Impact of a Positive Employee Experience) companies that scored the highest in employee happiness reported nearly three times higher return on assets, and doubled their return on sales. Companies with happy employees tend to outperform their competitors by 20%, thanks to employees feeling more motivated, less stressed and less burnt out.

 In other words, employee happiness is directly tied to your company’s financial success.

The knock on effect

Employee happiness also has a knock-on effect elsewhere. For one, happier employees are more productive and more likely to go the extra mile for your business, resulting in happier customers. When employees feel valued, involved in the company and given the autonomy to deliver exemplary customer service, they tend to do it. This story about Southwest Airlines (who made the Forbes top 20 list of America’s Best Employers for it’s dedicated to customer experience through staff happiness) shows just how powerful that can be. On the flip side, Gallup studies have shown that unhappy employees can actually scare off your customers, so it’s never been more important to invest in employee happiness.

How you can improve employee happiness

As a business, you might think your employees happiness is out of your control. Yes, some areas (like their personal life, relationships or finances) might be, but you can still make a big impact. Studies show workers cite their number one cause of stress as work, which is something you do have a direct influence on. There are a lot of different ways to approach this, and it’s worth remembering that you might need to do a few things to achieve your goal. After all, not everyone is motivated by the same things! Here are just a few examples of ways you can improve the happiness of your employee.

Recognise good work

Realising and rewarding the hard work your employees put in is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve employee happiness. No-one enjoys feeling like their efforts aren’t being recognised, praise your employees when they’re working hard!

Invest in a good wellbeing system

Show your employees that you genuinely care about your employee’s well-being. Find out what perks or benefits your employees would enjoy, and see what you could provide. This will probably look different for every company. For some it’s gym memberships, for others it’s in-office massages, access to holistic therapists or even just a nice plush ‘quiet relaxation area’ and freedom to use it whenever they need to (check out what Google does for more inspiration).

Ask them how you could improve

Regular anonymous online surveys are a great way to understand & Learn and improve your organisational health. Make sure to action any changes to your business that are feasible based on the feedback received. In time you will find your employees are more involved, listened to, as well as happy that their changes are being made.

Offer opportunities for learning

Whether they say it or not, most employees would like the opportunity to learn and develop professionally so that can progress their careers. Investing in employee learning and development is a great way to improve not only the quality of your employees, but their overall job satisfaction.

Create a safe, trusted culture

Nothing festers more than a disgruntled employee feeling they can’t talk about something that’s bothering them. Ensuring processes are in place with multiple lines of communication open between employees and management, gives employees confidence to raise ideas and speak up candidly. Make sure to include an anonymous reporting option, so that workers with more sensitive issues can still report them comfortably. Further information on creating a successful speaking up culture in your organisaton can be found in our ebook which is free to download.

Protect: Anonymous Speak Up: A safe and secure way for your people to anonymously raise concerns via phone, tablet, or PC, ensuring you are aware of any workplace issues and can respond quickly and accordingly

Consolidated Case Management: A secure online place to record, track, update, and report on all speaking up matters, whether raised through WorkInConfidence or directly.

Surveys: Easily set up, run and interpret surveys on engagement, respect, wellness or other topics to ensure you always understand your people, their needs and motivations.

Discussion Boards: Demonstrate your commitment to collaboration with discussion boards to accelerate employee engagement and gain greater insights – anonymous if required.