How to ensure your employees are happy in the workplace and why you should care. A fruit bowl just isn’t going to cut it!

This was a little article I was asked to write for a business magazine earlier this year. Since writing it, the subject of 'happiness in the workplace' and how it impacts on our well-being seems to be everywhere, so I thought I would share this with you.

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Most businesses know that taking care of employees is critical to success but ensuring employee happiness is much more than offering free yoga and a fruit bowl

Business success is often attributed to the workforce. Without the committed staff that keeps the cogs turning most businesses would fail to thrive and without the ability to thrive most would cease to be. But in this modern business world where the pace is faster than ever, expectations far higher than they once were and pressures and competition like the business landscape has never seen, keeping staff happy in the workplace can be quite a challenge. 

One of the biggest hurdles is understanding what employee happiness means to the individual. One person’s happiness looks very different to another’s and so understanding those needs if you have five employees may be somewhat less of a task than if you have 500 employees. But it needn’t be. The easiest way is to listen. Most people want to feel they have a voice in the organisation they work for. That they are more than just a number and that they can be heard. 

In my role, I see all too frequently that the majority of issues employees have are typically nothing to do with the role they hold within an organisation but rather the relationships they have within that role. They may feel unappreciated, want more autonomy, feel mismanaged, unable to create a rapport with certain colleagues, there may even be external factors that are infiltrating their day-to-day work-life and creating conflict. Most of these issues can be easily rectified within a business if the employees they impact upon are heard. It takes a personal approach. 

All too often I get asked why it matters, when “they’re paid to do their job, aren’t they?”. Correct. But as Maslow taught us, people have a complex hierarchy of needs which, when left unfulfilled, will create a level of dissatisfaction. All business leaders know that fulfilling those basic needs for employees isn’t going to create employee happiness but failing to fulfill them will create employee unhappiness. 

Businesses should actually be challenged to take that one step further. We invest in people; bring them into our organisations, train them within their roles, adopt CPD programmes. The list goes on. Ignoring their happiness will inevitably lead to that person and that investment being lost. This has an implication on both cost and resource. I’m often told that businesses can’t afford to dedicate resource to ensuring employee happiness on an individual basis. I challenge that thinking because actually, businesses can’t afford not to. 

Giving employees across all levels of an organisation somebody to talk to, in a non-judgemental way, to provide mentor-ship and allow them to know they are being heard by somebody who can give them the tools to make changes, will create a feeling of empowerment and lead to better working ways and being more productive. 

A fruit bowl just isn’t going to cut it.

Alexandra Lichtenfeld

Owner, Client Matters

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