Recent Gallup polls have revealed that most of America’s workers are not engaged. A worker who is not engaged is not happy – the terms can almost be used synonymously – and will not be an effective contributor to your firm’s goals or bottom lines. According to Gallup, just 29% of workers are engaged and happy. Why should you care if you have happy workers and what can you do about it?
First and foremost, if you’re in the business of making money – whether you’re a for-profit company or a non-profit raising money for a cause – you should know that happy and engaged employees will make your company more profitable. Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy, references a Jackson Organization study in the book that showed “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity & assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.”
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This is further underscored by looking at Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, whose stock prices rise at an average of 14% compared to 6% overall. And if you’re making more money, you should certainly reward your staff, but engagement and happiness are not driven just by money. There are plenty of high earning miserable people in the workforce. They say money can’t buy happiness and when it comes to your employees, this is very much true. Happy workers are motivated by much more than money.
What’s most important is keeping promises and appreciating your staff. Not only will this encourage engagement and happiness, but will save you on recruiting and training costs by improving retention and loyalty. A recent MetLife survey showed that employee loyalty is at a seven year low. Their data revealed that fully 30% of workers are actively planning on leaving their current jobs and a whopping 76% of workers – although not actively looking for another position – would bail in a heartbeat for an opportunity they felt was right for them.
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This means that unless you are engaging your workers and keeping them happy, you have a lot to lose – starting with your staff and ending with your profits. So what can you do to encourage employee engagement and happiness? Here’s three quick ideas:
#1 Appreciate – People like to know they are appreciated. When someone does something you appreciate, you should offer them a verbal or written thanks that lays out specifically what they did or what behavior they are modeling that you appreciate. Explain why what they did is important to the department, company or you or aligns with the firm’s goals. If you can thank them in a public forum, that’s even better! Employees who feel appreciated are less at risk for retention issues. Happy workers are loyal workers!
#2 Empower – People like to have some autonomy in their position and to know they are part of a bigger picture. By empowering your staff, you make them feel like what they are contributing is valuable to the company. If employees feel their work is important, they will be empowered, more engaged and happier. This is a win-win. There’s no worse feeling than thinking what you’re doing is meaningless – make sure your employees know they are mission critical to the success of your company!
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#3 Cultivate – People don’t want to be stagnant – it’s not a good feeling. To keep your employees engaged and happy, they must have opportunities to learn new skills and advance in their careers. You can provide a mentoring program, training and development programs and make sure to promote from within rather than hiring outside resources for leadership positions. Keeping your employees optimistic about their chances of moving up in the company will increase both engagement and happiness!