For a startup or small business, the ability to create happiness may be even more consequential. When you have five employees, two disengaged people reflects 40 per cent of your workforce. And if your company has an end user, buyer or stakeholder (which most companies do) you certainly don’t want that amount of staff to be unproductive – or weighing down the other 60 per cent. Plus, customers can detect when something is off. With 90 per cent of our buying decisions made subconsciously, it makes sense that the mood of our employees impacts the customer experience both positively and negatively.
Not to worry, there are ways to impact the happiness of your employees and they are simpler than you might expect. Here is how to create happiness habits that can be nurtured at work to build a more engaged and higher-performing team.
Conflict resolution vs. conflict avoidance
Millennials make up 70 per cent of the employees in high growth industries. And, they represent 50 per cent of the overall workforce – the biggest labour force in history. If you want to employ this group, you’ll need to enrol a culture of communication and transparency. Everyone benefits when team members feel they can approach their peers and manager with critical analysis, questions and feedback. Employees who feel their opinions matter are more productive and connected to the overall success of the companies they work for.
On the flipside, negative gossip can spread like a contagion across any size team. Unhealthy communication can be particularly detrimental to a small business as stress impacts morale, making high turnover a costly result. An authentic happiness strategy in the workplace includes conflict resolution, not conflict avoidance.
Engage everyone in the goals
If you’re looking to create happiness then invite all ideas to the table. When you ask your employees to contribute their opinions and then adopt their great ideas – you will experience the benefits of a highly engaged and loyal team. In my interview with Steve Carlisle, president of GM Canada, I learned an effective management strategy that can also be adopted by startups and SMEs. He builds cross-diagonal teams – groups of employees from different departments and levels of the business – to collaborate and ideate on organisational strategy. Our deeply rooted biases make us think marketers only know marketing and developers only know code, but you’d be surprised at the amount of value an outside opinion offers. Don’t limit jobs to classifications like part time, full time, or contracted employees.
The science of gratitude
Decades of research by some of the most influential scientists prove that happier, more grateful employees lead to better business outcomes. At Plasticity Labs, we correlated the practice of gratitude with reductions in procrastination. And, Dr. Robert Emmons discovered that you can reduce boredom, increase productivity, and even be more profitable just by asking your people to practice two minutes of gratitude before they start their day. Emmons learned that by writing down three grateful things every day happiness increases up to 25 per cent and people even exercise 1.5X longer.
In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded negative or neutral life events.
Celebrate small wins
Give the high fives, write the “thank you’s” on the wall, and show off your people’s work as often as possible if you want to create happiness. From the most prolific trailblazers at the head of the most powerful companies to the artisan change agents building fast-growing startups, there is an appetite for more emotionally intelligent leadership. When we have a choice to purchase a product that has identical features and benefits, we will now choose the brand persona we most admire. For this reason alone, the need to create relationships on a human level will be paramount to the success of any current or future business.
Jennifer Moss is the co-founder of Plasticity Labs, a technology company on a mission to give 1bn people the tools to be happier and higher performing.
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