Unhappy employees and your bottom line

23 October 2020 Tenaka

1 + 1 = 2

Red + yellow = orange

E = mc2

You’re still with me, I hope?

There’s no real disputing those equations up there. They’re all pretty much proven and accepted globally. There’s another equation that has also been proven, over and over, but for some reason, we still don’t see it happening enough.

Happy employees = increased productivity

It’s not a marketing mantra, it isn’t a management catchphrase, and it isn’t a cutesy way of saying, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was happy. It’s a simple, indisputable fact that has been proven by multiple researchers. So why aren’t companies going out of their way to make their employees happy?

The answer to that is complex. Firstly, every human is unique, which means not everyone defines happiness the same way. Secondly, it may seem like it’s too expensive to implement happiness improving measures. And in many cases, it’s because it takes time and effort – often something that can be sidelined in favour of one last push.

But we need to consider employee happiness urgently. It isn’t just your bottom line at stake. People are more stressed out and exhausted than ever before. We live in a state of continuous fight-or-flight, and that spells damage to mental health. Anxiety among working adults is skyrocketing, and it’s all due to an imbalance between productivity demands and personal wellbeing.

Your bottom line, however, is still at stake. Happy employees, on average, are around 15% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. One study put this as high as 20%, and when drilled down to job-specific stats, salespeople were a whopping 37% more productive when happy. When you have the choice between squeezing and forcing out an extra 5% productivity at the expense of your staff’s wellness, or gaining a staggering near-40% gain while making people happy, why would you actively choose the former? Is it because creating employee happiness is actually quite challenging?

That really is the rub. It can be difficult to implement measures that will improve happiness. First, you need to understand what those measures are, because not every workplace will have the same requirements. A factory full of manufacturing staff will have different priorities to a small group of employees in an advertising agency. Corporate employees will want different options to those in small businesses.

There are many ways to find out whether your employees are happy, and which aspects of work life can be altered to improve this. At Tenaka, it’s one of our core purposes – finding ways to help companies and employees develop good relationships. Take a look at our article on employee happiness surveys, to discover your people’s state. We’ve also covered designing an employee value proposition, talking to SA millennials, ways to keep in touch, and how to manage remote teams.

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