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3 Quick and Easy Changes to Improve Employee Happiness

It’s a radical notion that we all suspected was true but is now being borne out by scientific research.

Are you sitting down?

Here it is:


According to a UK study, those employees who find themselves smiling at work are 12 percent more productive than their more neutral counterparts.

While there has always been a view among some that idea employee happiness is some touchy-feely topic, there is an increasing pile of evidence to suggest that feeling good at work really does generate positive business results. (To hear from a leader in this area, check out this TED talk by author Shawn Achor.)

Backing this up to an even greater degree is a meta-analysis of 225 academic studies (PDF) that discovered happy employees are 31% more productive, have 37% more sales and are a whopping three times more creative.

It’s almost as if happy employees have superpowers their more disinterested brethren lack.

But that’s not the case. All employees can have their happiness level supercharged. But how do you get there?

According to the globally recognized guru of workplace happiness Richard Branson, “The basics are well-designed offices with plenty of sunlight, stimulating tasks to work on and a fair reward.”

Those are great suggestions, but Branson is laying out a longer cultural shift that will take serious management buy-in and time to establish.

And of course that time and effort is totally worth it.

But there are some more quick-acting options when it comes to boosting employee happiness.

Check out these three tips and get started.

Rethink Meetings

Wasteful meetings can be a major drag on employee morale. One survey by Staples found that workers view one-quarter of meetings as inefficient. Another survey found one-third of all time spent in meetings is considered unproductive. What accounts for the poor reputation of the modern meeting? Because they don’t lead to any decisions or are poorly organized.

Meetings aren’t going anywhere, and they don’t have to. Instead, run better meetings by laying out a specific agenda ahead of time, keeping them short (under an hour), keep a clear plan of action and keep them as small as possible.

Be flexible with employee schedules

Don’t be a stickler for the 9-5. Let your employees’ schedules adapt to their lives. If an employee with a child needs an hour each morning to get their tot off to school or daycare, let them work a 10-6.

Similarly, don’t fear telecommuting. With video chat technology now a common add-on to email systems such as Google, having someone work from home doesn’t mean they’re as out of touch as if they were working remotely on the moon.

Remember, it’s results that matter. Not where employees are.

Mix up employee awards/recognition events with variation in mind

If you have a regular (monthly or even biweekly) event where employees are recognized for their effort, spice it up a bit. Don’t give out the same old plaque every month to the most gung-ho member of the sales team, or the bug-killingest developer. Add variety to the actual forms of praise and recognition that are made.

Why? Because human beings fall victim to the phenomenon of habituation, meaning that we get used to recurring events and become less and less impressed or interested in them. In other words, the effect of the recognition will fade over time unless you shake it up by using different rewards.

For a really long lineup of potential ideas here, check out this exhaustive list.

Harness the power of employee ideas.