what does a happy workplace look like?

Should employers care whether or not their workers are happy? Isn’t happiness overrated? After all, the only reason anyone shows up to work is for a paycheque, right? Absolutely not! Employers who think this way tend to have a severe employee engagement and retention problem. 

What does a happy workplace look like

workplace culture is a reflection of leadership 

Ensuring your employees are happy is a part of your leadership role and often the difference between organizational success and failure. That’s not to say you should be hounding employees to share their feelings or that every day needs to be filled with rainbows and unicorns. But keeping an eye on the overall emotional state of your employees is important. 

When we talk about creating a happy workplace, we mean maintaining an environment that encourages creativity, independent thinking and debate within the scope of your business, where employees feel safe, where they’re engaged and motivated, and are proud to represent your organization. We’re talking about creating a work environment that attracts and retains top performers to your organization and compels them to stay and grow with you. Happiness directly affects your bottom line.

Here are some of the (many) ways companies benefit from supporting a culture that emphasizes employee happiness.

collaboration ramps up 

Happy people are quick to smile and when they do, it’s for real. Do your employees smile at you and at each other? Is there laughter from time to time as they share weekend stories? Do they seem comfortable and at ease talking with each other, in meetings or in the hallway? Is management accessible and open for discussion? Are there company events that encourage team and relationship building among employees? The importance of this can’t be overstated; employees report happy relationships with co-workers is a major motivator for remaining with a company. 

employees go above and beyond

How do your employees do their job? Are they executing the bare minimum as if they can’t wait to get it off their desk? Or do they perform at the top of their game? Do they receive regular positive reinforcement or is their performance a shopping list in a yearly 360 interview? Do they come up with new and improved ways of performing their tasks or processes? Do they volunteer for more work? And how do your teams perform? Are they a tight unit, supporting and helping each other? Or is it everyone for him or herself? 

employees aren’t dashing for the door

Do your employees arrive right on time and sprint for the door at 5? Or do they arrive early, settle in, chat, ramp up and finish their day with a sense of accomplishment, regardless of the clock? This doesn’t just mean your workers are comfortable and happy in the environment, but they’re also demonstrating respect and good stewardship of the company and its resources.

employees are proud of their workspace

What do your employees’ work areas look like? It is stark and pristine, or messy and disorganized? Or maybe it’s a clean space with a little of both, with personal pictures and items thrown into the mix? How an employee’s workspace looks depends largely on how they work best, but a dirty, slovenly space is a clue all’s not well in the land. A clean workspace is a healthy, productive workspace demonstrating pride in a job well done. A dirty, disorganized workspace not only impacts the quality of work but it’s unhealthy. An organization that promotes health as a critical element of its success is one that actively cares about its workers.

employees are loyal 

Are your employees optimistic, in spite of the anxiety of fluctuating economies and political landscapes? If business is rocky, can they count on a calm, firm, focused hand at the helm? Are they confident in leadership’s ability to guide them through rough waters? And what of the work culture you’ve established? Do you micromanage employees, strangling them with bureaucracy, or are employees provided guidance, clarity of expectations and the space to execute their roles autonomously? We’re talking about qualitative, not quantitative, leadership, where respect and flexibility overrule fear and status-based leadership. 

employees are more charitable

Is your organization community focused? Do you create opportunities for workers to come together for a worthy cause, volunteer, and perform charitable acts? Research says people are happier when doing for others, regardless of what’s happening in their own lives. Employees report greater engagement with an organization whose community service is embedded in their mission and culture.

employees are optimistic

Happy workers know what’s what. They know whether or not the company’s in trouble or doing well because leadership is regularly communicative and open. It’s important that everyone knows what everyone knows; that tangible goals, expectations, company values and short- and long-term strategies are laid out clearly. Employees can’t buy into what they can’t see or understand. If they’re not kept in the loop, they’ll create a narrative that explains their sense of unease, one that’s usually far worse than what’s really happening. And they won’t engage if they feel they’re being lied to.

the energy ramps up

How does your workspace feel? Is there a spark of creativity in the air when you enter the office? Is it relaxed and productive? Or are people hunched over their computers avoiding eye contact with headphone firmly plugged in? Do people look like they’re happy to be at work? Are you creating a workplace where people want to be for a long time? Unhappy employees tend to create an unhappy or disconnected atmosphere. Happy employees tend to bring energy and engagement.

 

Get more tips about building a culture that focuses on employee happiness and engagement. Check out our Employer Branding Centre.

about the author

Kristen Smalley - Content Manager

As someone who firmly believes that variety is the spice of life, content marketing has been a natural career path for me. Every day brings a chance to think creatively and learn about exciting new topics. Whether it's tackling content on employment trends, how to handle tough interview questions, or keeping safe in the workplace, there are always interesting topics waiting to be explored in the world of work!

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