How building a culture of happiness can drive business performance

By Greg Scileppi 20 March 2018

Workplace happiness isn’t a mythical abstract concept - it’s a tangible goal for any forward-thinking business and should be among a company’s top priorities. If we look at some of the most successful organisations, they tend to have a values-based culture that prioritises employee happiness and wellbeing.

For example, at Procter & Gamble, employees enjoy flexibility in their work schedules as well as training on career development, stress and time management and leadership. At Google, along with its notorious perks like fitness classes and gourmet food is the ability for employees to work on projects they feel passionate about, sparking their creativity and sense of purpose. Employees are enjoying the autonomy, flexibility and pride that comes from making tangible contributions to a shared goal.

With countless studies showing that companies with a strong sense of purpose and a clearly defined set of cultural values outperform peers, business leaders have recognised the importance of creating a culture that engages the workforce and has a tangible effect on both productivity and profits.

Happy employees have been proven to be more engaged, loyal, creative and productive than their less-satisfied counterparts, helping their companies remain competitive and directly impacting the bottom line. But how can companies without the resources of Google also create a happy workplace? To celebrate the International Day of Happiness, we've outlined some steps that businesses should take to create an environment where people can align their values to the culture of the company.

Start by assessing the values of employees

It’s important that each company understands what common values unite their employees and build them into the fabric of the company. While no two employees will have the same needs, goals, preferences or personalities, our research shows that sense of empowerment, feeling appreciated, interesting and meaningful work, a sense of fairness and positive work relationships are the top drivers of employee happiness.

These are universal factors that employees hold in high-esteem and guide motivation. Adapting your leadership style to embody these principles will create alignment between the company’s higher goals and employees. In the long-term, this will make employees feel like they’re contributing to the success of the company and that’s the kind of investment that will get them engaged and ready to go the extra mile.

Recruit and hire employees who embody similar values

When thinking about a new hire, organisations need to consider whether that person will be a good fit for the business and whether they will be aligned to the workplace culture. We spend a large amount of our waking hours at work and the people that we interact with everyday contribute to our happiness. Overall, 81% employees believe they have good relationships with people on their immediate team and employees who are satisfied with their relationships with their team members are 2.9 times more likely to be happy at work than those who do not get along with their colleagues.

Given the importance of these relationships, having a shared set of values is important to maintaining healthy relationships and avoiding conflict. To create alignment with a company’s higher goals and build rapport among teams, evaluating the attributes of new hires to see where they will compliment or contradict existing teams is an important step in the hiring process.

Think about the long-term

We are reaching a point where there will soon be five generations working together. As Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation 2020 come together in one work environment, organisations need to consider how they create an open and cognisant culture that works for everyone, regardless of demographics. Having a shared set of values and a clear, meaningful purpose will allow businesses to attract and retain employees, boost worker’s satisfaction and significantly aid recruitment and retention efforts.

The simple fact is that creating a culture with values that are consistent internally and externally is key to employee happiness and organisational success. Understanding the significant role that strong values play in your culture — and being willing to alter your approach to reflect them — is a great start to achieving employee happiness.

The bottom line is that workplace happiness truly matters to your employees and the long-term health of your organisation and there are simple steps that can be adopted to directly influence it.

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