Most employers want to make sure their employees are productive and professional at work. But should you also worry about whether they are happy in their job?
Shirley Baumer, the product manager for software company monday.com, believes that the answer is absolutely yes. "A happier employee is more likely to be creative," said Baumer. "A happier employee is more likely to be productive ... An employer can rely on a happier employee to be a public advocate for the company. That's invaluable."
When Baumer and the team at monday.com surveyed 10,000 customers in 136 countries to find out what makes employees happy in their jobs, they were surprised to find that salary did not top the list. In fact, it was at the very bottom. Money, it turns out, matters less than other areas of work culture and job satisfaction.
So what makes people love their jobs, and how can you create those conditions for your own employees?
One of the biggest problems employees face, said Baumer, is "a lack of understanding of how our work fits into the bigger picture," which can lead to not feeling appreciated or motivated.
To combat this, create a culture of transparency so that all your employees understand the goals, plans and challenges confronting the company. This will not only make them feel like they're an important part of the team, it gives you the chance to receive ideas and input from people who otherwise might not have felt empowered to speak up.
"When you create transparency, you can harness the full intelligence of the team, move faster and smarter, and achieve so much more together," said Baumer.
Develop your management skills.
Good managers bring out the best in employees, while bad managers make them feel unmotivated and unappreciated.
When asked what three qualities they most valued in a manager, the participants in the monday.com survey chose:
- Ability to delegate
Rather than promoting managers and expecting them to learn leadership abilities on the job, take time to develop those skills. Set aside resources for training, whether in person or online, that will help your senior staff learn to delegate, motivate and communicate effectively with other workers.
As an employer, you are responsible for creating the culture in your company. Make it clear to your employees that you value how they manage their teams just as much as the end product they produce.
Show your appreciation.
Survey respondents ranked "Feeling a sense of recognition for your work and contributions" as the fourth most important contributor to their happiness at work. And Baumer said that with her own team, she has found that not feeling appreciated directly affects motivation and productivity. "We believe in recognizing employees for their every contribution," she said.
Showing appreciation doesn't have to come with fanfare or perks. Baumer said monday.com's team management software includes elements as simple as the ability to give other employees' work a "thumbs up."
Whether you go the verbal, written or monetary route, showing appreciation for employees' work increases their sense of satisfaction and makes them feel like a valuable part of the company.
Let employees do work they feel passionate about.
The second most important contributor to employee happiness was, "Working in an area or industry you’re passionate about," followed closely by "Working for company that effects positive change in the world." Both of these values, said Baumer, ranked far higher than salary in terms of creating happiness in the workplace.
"While we understand that people need a certain level of financial security, we found this very compelling," she said. "It is exciting to learn that people are pursuing their passions in the workplace."
If your company is purpose-driven in its mission, you are likely already attracting workers who are doing work they feel passionate about. But any company can find ways for their work to give back to the community.
Consider donating a portion of profits to a scholarship fund or sponsoring a local charity drive. If your employees are able to see tangible proof that their employer is contributing to a worthwhile cause, they are more likely to feel positive about the work they do.
Passion for your work can also mean doing work you find compelling and rewarding, whether or not it is purpose-driven. Give your employees the chance to take on new challenges, and encourage them to speak with their managers about what their professional goals and interests are. Employees who are invested in their jobs are both happier and more motivated.
Have paths for professional growth.
And the number one thing that contributes to employee happiness? Overwhelmingly, participants selected "Having the ability to learn, develop and grow."
No one wants to feel stuck or trapped in their position, so having the opportunity to advance is key to employee happiness. Make sure that you are recognizing employees' achievements by offering them the ability to solve new challenges, learn new skills and take on new responsibilities.
This desire to develop and grow at work, said Baumer, was reflected in survey respondents' feelings of happiness toward their current jobs.
"While just less than half strongly agreed with the statement 'I define myself as happy at work,' 59 percent of respondents strongly agreed with, 'I am optimistic about my professional future,'" said Baumer. "This showed us that even if people aren't happy right now, they believe they can be. That's a great start."