What makes you happy at work?
Genuine question. Not easy to answer though. But businesses need to keep asking this question of their workforce to help ensure they recruit and keep the best staff. And we all need to question this ourselves to make sure we are in the right place at work.
There are a number of basic “happiness” factors such as pay and benefits, how much of the intrinsic nature of work itself we find enjoyable, how much boring “office admin” takes up of our time (less is more). But to a large extent these factors are determined by the type of industry or work we have chosen to do; the constraints are inherent in the role and company.
There is also a large push within companies to introduce “well-being” schemes. These range from encouraging flexible working, designing ergonomic workspaces, supplying healthy foods and drinks, or encouraging more physical activity with cycling schemes and subsidised gym membership. They all help to create a healthy working environment, which in turn encourages staff to stay and feel motivated.
Other areas which play a part are corporate values and corporate social responsibility. This will help determine whether, at an instinctive level, we feel comfortable working for a company or whether we want to look elsewhere.
But when it comes to happiness at work, most people ask themselves more fundamental questions:
- Am I respected and listened to?
- Do I have control (within reason) over when and how I do my work?
- Do I feel valued?
- If I do a good job, will I have an opportunity to progress?
Only when you answer “yes” to these questions will you feel happy at work. Or to put it another way, I defy anyone to consider themselves happy at work if they are not respected and do not feel valued. Even if they are paid a shed load of money.
So, the key for companies and managers is to ensure that they do respect, listen, give control to and value team members and direct reports. Not easy, because if it was we would all be doing it.
But here is one method everyone can try. For your 1-2-1 review meetings with team members (preferably outside the office, over coffee), ask how they see their successes and what they have done well. Keep it positive, and don’t let them dwell on what they see as the bad bits.
Then ask them what they would like to improve, how they and the team could do better. Thank them for their thoughts. And then next time: review, give feedback and repeat. Consistently.
If we all did this, would we not feel happier at work?
(c) Ben Thornber, Thornber HR Law
Contact Thornber Employment Law
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