Being Happy at Work Matters
No matter what you do for a living, being happy in your work matters. After all, the average worker spends a minimum of 8 hours in the office or on the factory floor every day, and in many cases 10 or 12 hours. That is more time than they spend almost anywhere else, and if those hours are miserable one, every aspect of their life will suffer as a result.
Happiness at work is more than a matter of personal satisfaction – it is also good for business. Research has shown that happier workers are better workers. Men and women who are engaged with their careers and happy in what they do are more conscientious, more loyal and more productive on the job.
That gives employers everywhere a strong incentive to keep their employees happy. There is a reason silicon valley tech giants like Google offer perks like free food, on-site oil changes and fully-stocked game rooms. They know that keeping their workforce active, engaged and happy is good for business, and that the money they spend on these trappings will be money well spent.
While Google and other 21st-century companies have worked hard to improve worker engagement and employee happiness, it is clear that their model is far from the norm. In fact, a 2013 report from polling firm Gallup found that less than a third of workers in the United States consider themselves engaged with their jobs and their careers.
Your own experience probably bears out this troubling statistic. Just think about your coworkers and how happy they are with their jobs, their bosses and the company as a whole. Chances are that 30% figure is about right, and that means employers still have a long way to go when building a happy, loyal and engaged workforce.
That same Gallup survey also found that worker engagement is not gaining ground, and that employee happiness has remained largely the same through the ups and downs of the economy. It seems that we remain unhappy in our work whether the economy is roaring ahead or slipping backwards.
If you are running a business, having an unhappy and disengaged workforce is a recipe for disaster. No one wants to work with an office full of negative people, and those bad attitudes can contribute to everything from excessive absenteeism to high turnover rates.
Unfortunately, many employers, and many hiring managers who should know better, still feel that feelings do not matter at work. They think that keeping employees happy is bad for business, or that it will cost too much. They fail to grasp how a few simple changes in the office culture could actually help their firms get ahead, or that an investment in employee happiness could actually boost profits instead of hurting the bottom line.
Keeping employees engaged and happy in their work is a vital part of doing business, but businesses need to walk a fine line between negative emotions and positive ones. Studies have shown that happy workers are productive workers, but those same studies have found that employees who are too happy and frantic tend to be less creative.
You may have seen this behavior at corporate pep rallies, sales conferences and other places where worker engagement is taken to an absurdly high level. Those frantic sales people and corporate cheerleaders may seem engaged, but studies have shown that this type of behavior is actually counterproductive and bad for innovation.
In the end, creating a happy and engaged workforce is not as difficult as it might seem. Study after study has shown that workers value three things above all else. The three keys to worker happiness and career engagement are a meaningful vision of the future, a sense of purpose and great working relationships with their colleagues, supervisors and coworkers. The businesses that are able to provide those three key ingredients are the businesses most likely to succeed in good times and bad.