Is Your Workplace a Happy Place to Work?

Anyone who has ever had the unhappy experience of working with a disgruntled fellow employee (or has been one themselves) knows the personal value of maintaining a positive work environment. It turns out that there’s a professional reason to keep everyone content, too: Happy employees are better performers, according to the 2011 Gallup Employee Engagement Index.

Gallup surveyed more than 2,300 U.S. employees by phone to determine how perceptions of happiness and well-being affect them at work.

The researchers discovered three different types of employees:

  • Engaged employees, or those who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company;
  • Unengaged employees, or those who are checked-out and put time — but no energy or passion — into their work; and,
  • Actively disengaged employees, or those who aren’t just unhappy at work but are actively acting out and undermining what co-workers are trying to accomplish.

The more engaged workers reported greater happiness on the job, due to factors such as supervisors who focus on their strengths (vs. weaknesses) and mostly positive interactions with co-workers.

The Intuit Small Business Blog recently asked three experts to weigh in on how to make any company a happy and engaging place to work. Here’s what they had to say.

Kevin McHugh, executive coach and author of The Honest Executive:

“Leaders who conduct themselves with a spirit of service to those they lead create work cultures and environments that people will line up to join. You can find and nurture your sense of humility from within by engaging in a series of reflective self-examinations.

Ask yourself:

  • To what extent am I more focused on myself and getting a good outcome for me than I am on others around me and what their outcomes will be?
  • Why is that? What drives my focus on myself?
  • How do I view myself in the larger purpose and meaning of life? Have I given it much thought?

These questions can produce sobering thoughts, but they are the seeds of self-awareness and transformation. Seeing oneself as smaller, living to hold up those around us, and being more humble in general generates greater engagement.”

Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money:

“People thrive in an environment where there is a shared vision. It’s not just that the leader has the vision; everybody can feel the vision coming through them. The mission of the organization is also clear and resonant in people’s hearts and minds.

Individuals must be acknowledged and celebrated for their gifts and talents on a constant basis. The growth and development of the people comes from expanding their own recognition of their unique gifts and talents, rather than fixing something that’s wrong with them. When this is present, engagement happens.”

Chris Majer, founder of the Human Potential Project and author of The Power to Transform:

“A corporate leader has two fundamental responsibilities: He [or she] is the guardian of the mood of the enterprise and the architect of the future.

In small companies, what we call ‘mood management’ is perhaps the most essential leadership skill. Anyone who has ever worked in a startup company will fondly remember the mood of ambition, confidence, and esprit that is the driving force in a new company.

If you want people to be excited about working in your company, to be engaged in and with what you are up to, and to be willing to help you realize your vision, then it is essential that you pay as much attention to the mood in your organization as you do the P&L.”

About Karen Leland

Karen Leland is the best-selling author of six business books and a freelance journalist whose work has been published in Entrepreneur, Inc, The Los Angeles Times, Self, WebWorkerDaily, The Huffington Post and others. She is the President of Sterling Marketing Group, where she works with small businesses and Fortune 500 companies around the globe on building stronger brands and creating more effective organizations.
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