Those who remember the 1999 cult classic Office Space, featuring Jennifer Aniston, might recall that the plot centers around an HR nightmare at a tech company. Managers in the film are self-serving and clueless while the skilled workers seek both escape from the mundane and revenge on their superiors. Efficiency consultants are brought in to reduce costs, boost productivity and identify which employees can stay and which must go based on interviews and manager input.
Recent studies have revealed that perhaps the problem with companies like the one in the film is an overall lack of culture. The research has shown that raises and promotions alone do not boost productivity. Instead, it is happiness and workplace culture that have an impact on employee loyalty and productivity.
One study found that employees who were happy also were 12% more productive than the control group. Unhappy workers were shown to be 10% less productive. So in practice, companies could see as much as 22% increase in productivity when an employee moves from a states of unhappiness to happiness.
Current neuroscience backs up the productivity research. Researchers have found that our cognitive abilities, such as memory recall and problem solving, improve along with increases in happiness.
So, companies who invest in a workplace that supports happiness find that their team is smarter and works harder. Creating such a workplace is a challenge that goes beyond positive slogans or brightly-colored décor.
Best Practices for A Happy Work Environment
Happiness in the workplace must be cultivated and encouraged. Companies seeking happier employees need to create a workspace that reflects positivity. Ways to foster a positive workspace include:
Free and Open Communication
Employees seek feedback and want to feel their voices are heard. A lack of feedback leads to employees assuming the worst, which in turn causes a lower sense of appreciation. In this disengaged state, employees can wonder why they should put so much effort into a job where their contributions are not appreciated. Continued open communication allows problems to be acknowledged and solved more quickly. It also creates happier workplace and more engaged employees.
A Safe Workplace
Scared employees are not happy employees. A safe working environment supports a workspace where physical and emotional safety rules are consistently enforced. This points to having a company policy that not only prohibits illegal discrimination and harassment, but also prohibits bullying. Even employees who are not directly involved suffer when they witness negative behaviors being tolerated. A positive workspace is a safe workspace.
Employees innately want to be trusted. They seek autonomy in competing their tasks. Micromanagement negatively affects employees by causing them to be controlled and untrustworthy. Regular communication, training, and employee reviews can help them stay on the right track. But, when management is overly-involved with the daily tasks, it makes employees feel unhappy. People do not do their best work when they feel they are being watched all of the time.
If you are seeking a way to boost the productivity of your employees, focus on creating a positive workspace. Happiness is a cost-effective way to create a more productive workplace with employees who are fully-engaged.