Happy Working — An Oxymoron?
It is said that money makes the world go round, well, there is no doubt that using cash as an incentive will help you get your objective met most of the time, however, in the case of boosting workplace productivity, there may be more than one lock that is in the way. A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers displayed a 10% decrease in productivity levels. Is happiness therefore one of the coveted keys to unlock an improvement in workplace productivity? In this article, we shall explore various ways to achieve workplace happiness and how they contribute to an overall improvement in workplace productivity.
Providing flexibility & room for choices in the job —
This can come in many forms, first off and the most obvious one would be offering flexibility in working hours. Less rigid work hours will help retain members, especially those who are looking out for work-life balance and treasure their own personal time outside of work. Allowing employees to plan their own work schedule would also allow them to take ownership and responsibility of their own time, better separating their working hours from their personal time, and therefore, facing less distractions while at work. Judging employees not by hours served but rather by productivity, will give them a rewarding sense of freedom. Another form of flexibility in the workplace is flexibility in approaches towards assigned tasks. Beware of supervisors or managers who tend to micromanage over the most simplest of tasks, these restrictions on approaching work will no doubt lower everyone’s morale, well-being, as well as their motivation to put in their best effort. Worst yet, it could lead to a bunch of employees who are followers and instruction takers, with no initiative and enthusiasm towards the company. Freedom, self-worth and a sense of contribution are all highly important to an employee’s overall welfare; Neglecting them would be applying the brakes to progress and productivity.
Breaking the routine —
It is clear that boredom leads to less productivity, the novelty of something fresh and new gets old rather quickly for people, it is inevitable and unavoidable. Doing the same job over and over again will get old quickly. Over time, the only thing holding back your employee from leaving may be the money; That is when your company is heading towards absolute productivity failure. To avoid this, injecting some “oddities” into the routine of work will do wonders. For instance, shuffling of job scopes (of course, those that do not require very specific technical skills) within a department will keep your employees on their toes. At the same time, management will also get a better idea on who is more suited for which role and all personnel are trained to cover for their colleagues in the case of absence. When something surprising happens, our brains will pay more attention, giving these events a greater emotional weight. Thus, allocating time for surprise company outings, exercise sessions or even gaming sessions can be a great and well-earned respite from the hectic work schedule, which would no doubt breed both excitement and motivation in the work place, boosting productivity in both the short and long term.
Gamification at work —
Gamification is the injection of a challenge/game and using psychology to encourage certain behaviours. Research shows that internal gamification can increase employee productivity by 40%! For gamification to be effective, identification of the behaviours to be encouraged and measured, as well as those to be discouraged, must occur first. Just take note that by creating a reward system, it is akin to creating a virtual economy, and the reward currency should be able to translate into tangible, achievable rewards in the short term. In other words, make the game player friendly; Do not subject your employees to a system that take years to achieve a tangible reward. After all, Business feedback shows that smaller frequent positive feedback and rewards will keep people happy longer than a single, large and infrequent happy event. Even the excitement and novelty of receiving the biggest awards “wear out” in less than a year, with most employees responding better to small rewards every few days. Gamification, if monitored closely to prevent over competitiveness, would therefore give otherwise mundane work a “play” dimension to it, making it more engaging and exciting for employees to strive to do their best.
Office pets —
Yes, we know, the immediate thought that goes to your mind is probably all the cleaning and high maintenance, which is pretty off-putting. But hear us out, According to a study by Christopher Honts and his colleagues at Central Michigan University, dogs in the office can help to boost productivity! How exactly? Well, first off, having pets around would prompt more frequent, effective breaks. A simple walk around the block can provide one with a fresh perspective to tackle their problems, also, productivity is boosted with short breaks peppered throughout the work day. Besides that, office pets are great conversation starters for staff, and would allow your team to bond in ways never expected before! This will help build a cohesive and cooperative team. The added sense of community, connection and happiness in the workplace offered by pets will prove invaluable in the long run, well worth the initial inconveniences.
Encourage Progression —
In every business, it is without doubt that employee proficiency at their assigned roles is highly important; However, addressing the aspirational and existential need of employees will be a more pressing issue in the long term. It shouldn’t be enough for employees to master the skills needed to complete their tasks in a very efficient manner; Management should expect every employee to strive to better themselves at all times and not be satisfied with stagnation. If there is no system to help employees see the path ahead of them and what they can do to try and achieve such goals, they may eventually feel like a cog in the wheel of the company and have no sense of purpose or belonging, which would no doubt bring down their morale and therefore, efficiency in the workplace.
It should be clear as day now to see that happiness is indeed one of the secrets to workplace productivity; A good working environment does not only prove to be beneficial for employee retention, but also for bringing about more energy and enthusiasm, resulting in better quality work being produced. Also, the power of influence employees have on one another should not be overlooked, so “setting the stage” right by having more positive, upbeat employees in the workplace will have a “viral” effect on new employees and even existing ones; So go ahead, start spreading the good vibes around now!