We all strive to be happy at work and in our personal lives but a survey of 1,200 workers conducted by Depression Alliance published earlier this year made for worrying reading. It found that a third of people in the UK are struggling to cope at work because of depression, stress or burn out, with 83% of those affected experiencing isolation or loneliness as a result. A variety of reasons for this were cited, such as large workloads, difficult working environments or the perception of an unfair situation at work or bad boss which all can bring employees down.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that having happy employees will have a positive impact on sales performance and lead to higher profits. So how do sales managers create an environment that engages and motivates their employees and ensures they are happy?
Research from the University of Warwick stated that if people are happy they are around 12 per cent more productive. This research involved experiments with more than 700 participants and revealed that people work harder when they are happy. Professor Oswald, one of leaders of the research said: "Companies like Google have invested more in supporting their employees and their employee satisfaction rates have risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%."
However, it is not always the obvious things that sales managers expect that create a happier workforce. When asked what would make them happier at work people often say they want more money and shorter hours, but really these are just ‘hygiene factors’. They tend to stop people being unhappy, but they don’t necessarily engage them nor make them happy.
Employee engagement and motivation actually comes from having the right leaders in place who value their employees, who create a good workplace culture and prioritise and ensure the well-being of their employees.
Nowadays, work is so integrated into people’s lives that it is important for them to be motivated and fulfilled – and to feel happy and content. People are happier when they feel as though they are adding value, when they feel they are trusted and valued and when their work has a purpose. There is the story of a Janitor cleaning Cape Canaveral when the rocket was going to the moon. A news reporter asked him what he did and his answer was to help people go to the moon. It just showed how purpose made his job important to him.
To create happy employees, leaders need to create a sense of purpose and vision – a sense that what people are doing in their jobs really does matters and contributes to the business. In other words businesses need to invest in their employees in order to have happier and more productive workers – it doesn’t just happen by itself.
Below are some tips for business on how to create a culture and workplace that is happy, dynamic, fun, wildly productive and highly profitable.
1) Pay fairly. Money is a hygiene factor. It doesn’t make people happy, however, unfair pay can make people feel unhappy and demotivated. Smart leaders pay people well. This is non-negotiable.
2) Deliver good benefits. Whether it’s a good health plan, childcare, transportation, a fitness center or free lunch on Fridays, benefits make people’s lives easier and better. They feel appreciated and cared for, which leads to increased loyalty and a willing to go the extra mile.
3) Keep an open leadership door — and an open mind. Numerous studies have down that when management is approachable and responsive, employee engagement soars. People spend a big chunk of their lives at work, and when they feel voiceless their frustration grows.
4) Share the profits. When employees share in the good times, their investment in the company grows and they will be far more likely to work hard — and to dig deep during the not-so-good times.
5) Make your workplace fun. This doesn’t have to involve ‘cheesy’ team bonding days. It is merely about encouraging people to bring their personalities, quirks and passions to work. This leads to an increasingly seamless work/life mesh, a sense that people can really be themselves at work. Games, laughter and fun are great stress relievers; they renew and refresh us, and build very real bonds between employees.
According to a Gallup poll friendship is one of the 12 questions that is correlated to happiness and engagement in the workforce. Friendship helps people work better at work as they support and care about each other. Work is a long part of our days and it needs to be fun.
By Marielena Sabatier, CEO of Inspiring Potential