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4 methods for maximising employee happiness

By Jack Campbell
03 April 2024 | 12 minute read
cecile jenkins reb mnpjuu

Maintaining a happy workforce is a strong path to business success. Keeping our most valuable asset healthy and engaged should be top priority, however, recent research reveals this isn’t the case at many organisations.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of employees revealed they were stressed or overwhelmed at work, according to an Oak Engage survey.

Furthermore, 26 per cent claimed they were unhappy in their role and 75 per cent have experienced a toxic work environment.

These issues are preventable and, according to respondents, there are four key ways to improve employee happiness:

1. Work/life balance (46 per cent).
2. Job security (32 per cent).
3. Atmosphere and relationships (31 per cent).
4. Flexibility (30 per cent).

So, how can employers put their best foot forward and maximise wellbeing? According to Oak Engage, there are yet another four key considerations to make.

1. Honest communication

With 16 per cent of respondents identifying their company’s communication as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’, there is clearly more to be done.

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According to Cécile Jenkins, executive life coach at Working Life, honesty and trust can be defining factors in improving communication

“Trust plays a key role in how we feel about our colleagues, managers and leaders. So much so that when there is conflict in a work relationship, we often lose all trust in that colleague. Furthermore, when that trust between the whole workforce and its leaders breaks down, this can be catastrophic for an organisation,” said Jenkins.

“Leaders should communicate clearly, consistently, and regularly – even when they have nothing to say. This way, people can start to trust there isn’t anything they’re not being told which will allow the trust to increase. Giving employees a voice isn’t just about letting them have their say. The real value comes from actively listening. This requires leaders to show interest, empathy and compassion. More importantly, when leaders follow through on what they’ve heard, employees will feel the care and trust has increased. That’s where the real magic happens.”

2. Reward and recognition

People want to be recognised and rewarded for their hard work. Despite this, one-third of respondents said their workplace does not recognise their achievements.

Jenkins continued: “When one in three people feel that the balance between what they put in and the acknowledgement they get for that isn’t fair, employers can do more to recognise and reward. Training line managers in this, and running company-wide recognition schemes are just two examples of how this can be supported.”

Will Murray, Oak Engage’s chief executive is in agreement: “It’s important to celebrate employee achievements, no matter how small. This will build momentum and keep employees motivated ... Recognition is critical when it comes to boosting employee morale.”

3. Work/life balance

Work/life balance took the top spot in promoting employee happiness and, as such, should be top priority for employers. Support needs to come from the top and can help maintain a happy workforce.

“While employees hold the power to create and protect their own work/life balance, if they are not supported in this by the organisation, its leaders and their line managers, it can have a significant negative impact. Supporting initiatives such as giving people the right to disconnect and tackling back-to-back meeting culture are just a few of the ways employers can support people’s work/life balance,” explained Jenkins.

4. Purpose

According to Jenkins, purpose is one of the best paths to fulfilment. Leaders can help engage and motivate teams by providing purpose, in turn, developing positive wellbeing.

“When we can connect our sense of purpose to the organisation, our function and our individual role, this can contribute to finding more meaning and fulfilment at work, and therefore more happiness. Employer-supported volunteering has recently been called out as having a particularly positive effect on wellbeing as it provides a great focus for organisations to invest in,” she said.

“When I work with people in demanding roles who are considering how aligned their job is to their life’s aspirations, taking on a volunteering role is often felt to be a way to satisfy their desire to have an impact in line with their individual values. If employers can find a way to tap into that, within the work context, this could well lead to higher job satisfaction, and ultimately higher retention of talent.”

Murry concluded: “Employee happiness is not just beneficial, it’s critical. By prioritising employee wellbeing and creating a supportive work atmosphere, companies can not only enhance job satisfaction but also drive innovation and growth.”

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