How to be happy at work - 6 questions for leaders to create a Happy Team
Now, I'm not stating any new facts that the cost of poor mental health costs UK employers between £33 billion - £42 billion per year. That equates to a £74 billion to £99 billion cost to the UK economy - which would really help make a dent in the Covid-19 debt we as a nation are facing.
Can happiness really resolve such crushing financial issues? Probably not, however, there is a lot to be said for your workforce feeling happier as happy and engaged workers are more productive - up to 20% more productive which therefore leads to increased efficiency and profitability (what every business needs right now)
Surely, we in the UK must be fairly happy in our work? We are, sort of, but we are 10th on the list behind happy nations such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland, France and the United States. In fact, all of the countries ahead of us on this 'happiness list' are also ahead of us for productivity (apart from Spain - but who can blame them at this moment in time)
Alarmingly, we've yet to add the Nordics and Switzerland to the list and they will surely wipe the floor when it comes to feeling happy so expect us to slip further and further down.
Why am I banging on about this now? Well - we are in the midst of a pandemic causing huge amounts of job uncertainty and an ever-increasing risk of an economic depression. Add in the Brexit factor and fear we are facing a workforce of demotivated and depressed individuals dragging themselves through from Monday through to Friday.
As Lord Mark Price puts is so eloquently:
"In a post - Brexit world, engaged and happy workers will be vital if we are to become competitive on a global stage"
Now I'm not promising a winning formula or offer some 'get happy instantly' tips; instead I hope the following questions will allow you to think about how can help your team members become happier, more fulfilled and therefore more engaged in their work.
Reward & Recognition
1. How are you recognising your team?
Aretha Franklin was onto something with her mighty song "Respect"- if your staff don't feel respected it won't matter how much they are paid or what great package of benefits they are receiving. Obviously it is crucial that you are paying everyone fairly and the more value you can add to the cold hard cash all the better
But their good will won't last long without respect throughout your organisation. How do you show your respect and recognition to your employees? Some will relish public praise, others will appreciate your time and energy on their development. As a leader it is up to you to instil respect, 'well done' and thanks at all levels of your organisation.
2. How are you communicating with and listening to your employees?
Everyone knows about full, open and honest communications with their staff, but what if the news is not always the best to hear?
In my experience when working with organisations, the more information you can give the better as nothing starts the rumour mill quicker than silence or just random bits of info.
Be prepared to change your approach when it comes to communicating especially if your team are still mainly working from home. You may need to dedicate more time to talk with separate teams or people individually and listen to what each and every employee on your team needs from you and the business. There is a reason why we have 2 ears and 1 mouth!
Value & Empowerment
3. What value are you instilling into each and every staff member?
Value comes in many forms for each individual so consider embedding this through development, progression, wellbeing (see below!) and crucially through each employee's opinion being heard.
One key indicator is to ask yourself if you feel valued by your organisation - if not then chances are the rest of your team won't feel it either. You can then open up the discussion to ask in what ways they would feel valued.
4. How are you caring for your team?
Ahhhh - one of my favourite topics (closely followed by gin, improv comedy and of course coaching)
I work with a range of organisations on their wellbeing strategy and the first thing I ask is "what do your staff need?" More often than not I am met with some blank faces and awkward paper shuffling.
You can't provide help and support unless you know what the issues and concerns are that you need to address. The best way to find out is run a simple survey with your team to see where they most need wellbeing help and support from the business.
The next thing is to get an Employee Assistance Programme and potentially a wellbeing strategist and coach to really engage your team and get them back on track.
Purpose & Pride
5. How proud are your employees to work for your organisation?
Perhaps the real question here is "how proud are you of your organisation?"
When we take pride in our work and in our company we automatically do better work, we tell people how great it is to work there and encourage others to join.
Your team are your main advocates, cheerleaders and champions of your organisation - find out what makes them or would make them proud to work for and with you.
6. How fulfilled are each of your team in what they do?
Now this is loaded question as it often gets drilled down to the nitty gritty of people's job roles, however, if each and every one in your team can see the impact and value their role and, more importantly, they as an individual have on the company then chances are they will begin to feel more fulfilled as they will see the direct cause and affect of their work.
It is also crucial that each of your team are learning and developing - with budgets currently being slashed left, right and centre find free online courses, webinars, podcasts, talks for them or recommend books they can read until you can afford more.
If you don't know the answers to the above questions then I beg of you - please don't just assume the answers; instead, run an anonymous survey with your workforce to find out what they think, how they are feeling and, vitally, what they need from you now and in the future.
You can then create your Plan of Happiness and see productivity and motivation sky rocket.
Thanks for reading and stay happy