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In surveys, people often say they want more money and shorter hours, but these are just hygiene factors, it stops them from being unhappy, but it doesn’t engage them. Engagement and motivation comes from having the right leaders and a good workplace culture and leaders who value their employees. Nowadays, work is so integrated into our lives that it is important to feel motivated and fulfilled. To achieve this, leaders need to create a sense of purpose and vision. A sense that what people are doing really does matter.
There is plenty of hard evidence that shows that happy employees lead directly to better performance and higher profits. In other words, invest in your employees and this will make for happier and more productive workers. Below are some of my top tips on how to create a culture and workplace that is happy, dynamic, fun, wildly productive and highly profitable.
1) Pay fairly. Money is a hygiene factor. It doesn’t make people happy, however, unfair pay can make people feel unhappy and demotivated. Smart leaders pay people well. This is non-negotiable.
2) Deliver good benefits. Whether it’s a good health plan, childcare, transportation, a fitness center or free lunch on Fridays, benefits make people’s lives easier and better. They feel appreciated and cared for, which leads to increased loyalty and a willing to go the extra mile.
3) Keep an open leadership door – and an open mind. Numerous studies have down that when management is approachable and responsive, employee engagement soars. People spend a big chunk of their lives at work, and when they feel voiceless their frustration grows.
4) Share the profits. When employees share in the good times, their investment in the company grows and they will be far more likely to work hard – and to dig deep during the not-so-good times.
5) Make your workplace fun. This doesn’t have to be cheesy bonding days out. It is merely about encouraging people to bring their personalities, quirks and passions to work. This leads to an increasingly seamless work/life mesh, a sense that people can really be themselves at work. Games, laughter, fun are great stress relievers, they renew and refresh us, and build very real bonds between employees. According to a Gallup poll Friendship is one of the 12 questions that is correlated to happiness and engagement in the workforce. Friendship helps people work better at work as they support and care about each other. Work is a long part of our days and it needs to be fun.
People are happier when they feel they are adding value, when they feel they are trusted and valued and when they feel their work has a purpose. There is the story of a Janitor cleaning Cape Canaveral when the rocket was going to the moon. A news reporter asked him what he did, his answer was to help people go to the moon. It just showed how purpose made his job important to him.
A recent survey of 1,200 conducted by Depression Alliance found that a third of people in the UK struggle to cope at work because of depression, stress or burn out, with 83% of those affected experiencing isolation or loneliness as a result. It is not necessarily a big workload that causes depression at work but an unfair boss and an unfair work environment are what can really have an effect on employees and really bring them down. Below are a few tips on how to combat stress and depression at work:
1. Accept stress – Denial of stress will only worsen the symptoms. People need to be honest with themselves that they are in a situation that needs to change.
2. Find the root cause of stress – This is not necessarily as easy as it sounds but good coaching can usually get to the heart of the matter fairly quickly. People need to spend time contemplating their feelings understand the sources of stress and talking to a friend or business coach can help provide clarity and focus.
3. Identify what needs to happen to change the cause of the stress – It is important not to place too much emphasis on reducing the symptoms without acknowledging the underlying causes. Changing the cause might include looking for a more suitable job. Other examples of changing the cause might include arranging for some work to be delegated to others. It could also include improving organisational skills so that things don’t get so out of control in the future.
4. Focus on the solution not the problem – Instead of dwelling on the problem, people need to ask themselves how they would ideally be feeling or what their ideal desired outcome is. Too often people get stuck thinking about a problem without considering an alternative or focusing on the end result they want to achieve.
5. Socialise – When stressed or depressed, people tend to overlook their hobbies, friends and interests but spending time with family and friends can be the best tonic. Exercise also helps combat stress and depression by releasing endorphins that create a natural high and it can help replace feelings of tension with optimism and calm.
*Executive coach Marielena Sabatier, CEO of Inspiring Potential,works with businesses and executives to develop and boost their confidence to improve their performance at work.