The happiness factor: why emotional success matters to business

For both entrepreneurs and seasoned executives alike, building a profitable business is priority number one. After all, profits are key to future success. But the bottom line is only one indicator of a healthy organization. According to recent research, happy employees are just as important as reaching sales goals or shipping a new product.

A happy workforce is typically a thriving one. Employees who rate their overall job satisfaction as “high,” perform better, are more loyal to their company and produce higher quality work. A Columbia University study showed that the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with rich company culture was 13.9 percent, whereas the probability of job turnover in poor company cultures stood at 48.4 percent. This is all important news for companies that are facing an improved economy and a tighter job market. It’s vital for employers to pay greater attention to making and keeping their workers happy, lest they seek out other job opportunities.


Balance priorities for well-rounded success


So what’s the secret to happy employees? Every company is different and there’s no one right answer. It’s important to know what motivates your employees and how to strike the proper balance between business goals and emotional goals. This requires you to know and believe in your workers, and understand your risk appetite. Budgeting for happiness is a strategy that pays off in the long run. By investing in the satisfaction of your people, you’ll make your business a place where talented folks want to contribute in positive ways for years to come.


Improve your company culture without breaking the bank


Creating a nourishing environment does not have to equate with dishing out bonuses. Closely monitor the pulse of your employees’ wants and needs, and you will find new productivity factors and maximize the performances of your talent. Not everyone is motivated alike; a little extra effort in determining what workers hope for in their jobs can yield high returns. In our previous post, we highlighted the positive effects in investing in effective internal communications. At Concur, we have seen the investment in internal communications, both with dedicated internal communications staff and publications, have an extreme increase in employee satisfaction and productivity. The culture of an organization contributes powerfully to the happiness of its members. In the recipe for employee satisfaction, cultural ingredients of public recognition, wellness, collaboration and communication flavor much of the taste—or distaste—that workers have for their workplace.


Make employees feel valued. Your employees want to know they matter to your organization. Recognize and celebrate employees’ hard work. It can be as simple and cost-efficient as throwing a party for a recent team that has hit their goals or calling attention to wins, small and large, in the company newsletter or blog. Another way to show appreciation is by taking a step back and looking at how the company as a whole can be improved: what updates could you make to your office, benefits, etc.? These extra efforts say, “We care about you, the environment we work in and what you get out of this job.                

  • Make health a priority. The ancient Greeks believed that a sound mind depended upon a sound body. Your workforce doesn’t have to be as fit as the original Olympians to reap the benefits of physical (and emotional) wellness. Given the number of hours an average American spends sedentary at work, not to mention the high cost of illness and chronic disease for businesses, promoting healthy habits can and should be a cornerstone of your workplace. Like most things, small nudges in the right direction can add up to significant gains. Encourage people to take time out when they aren’t feeling well during flu season. Offer a discount on a local gym membership. Consider workplace yoga or meditation programs, offered free of charge. You can even lead the way on emotional health by pursuing balance in your own career and life—and actively modeling and mentioning your work/life commitment in meetings and casual encounters.


  • Foster community and collaboration. With new companies opening their doors everyday boasting laid-back atmospheres and open-format workspaces, more established companies are taking a look into how they themselves can have an enthusiastic and authentic company culture. Open a forum for every employee to have a say in what they think would keep them motivated and inspired. Why not even appoint a culture committee? Put outside-of-work activities on the calendar such as sports days or happy hours for employees to build a new kind of team connection. After you’ve made these initial implementations, keep them up—you must stay consistent over the long haul for your culture investments to pay off.



  • Remember that communication goes both ways. In the dizzying speed of business these days, it can be difficult to speak and listen so that all participants feel heard or understood. A 30 minute one-on-one may not be enough time to actually dig into a thorny issue or air a difficult grievance. Act like a listening detective: during high-stakes conversations, make sure you’re asking open-ended questions, allowing for silence, honing in on key statements and requesting that employees ”say more” about critical ideas and concerns. Don’t be shy about asking a team member if someone believes that you were able to really receive their feedback and input during a discussion. Cultural health depends on uncovering important issues as they arise through close attention, openness and measured patience.

When employees are engaged in their work, they feel a purpose, and ultimately reap this benefit in both their careers and personal lives. The organization’s role here is to be cognizant of an employee’s emotional needs, which results in a mutually beneficial relationship. As an organization, you can address these needs by recognizing hard work, prioritizing health and wellness, encouraging an open and communicative environment and more.

Like innovation, culture takes time to grow organically, but when done right, it can be a welcome revolution. Start your program with a strong foundation and executive support. Give your employees a purpose to show up at work-- consider the happiness factor.

How does your company help keep employees happy?  


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