How to unlock the value of a happy workforce

Cultivating a happy workforce has become an increased priority for businesses globally. Enlightened companies understand their role and responsibility in ensuring the wellbeing of their employees at work and there is growing evidence that when employees are happy, organisations thrive. Jitesh Patel, CEO of Peldon Rose, explores further.

Jitesh Patel is CEO of Peldon Rose, a leader in office interior design and fit out and a specialist in workplace innovation. The company has been creating award-winning offices in London since 1987 and has delivered projects for a range of clients including The White Company, Pret A Manger, Heineken and JustGiving.

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ot only is happiness a reflection of the mental wellbeing of employees, but recent research from the University of Warwick found that a happy worker is 12% more productive than an unhappy one.

A recent Peldon Rose survey of nearly 2000 employees however has revealed that only two-thirds (67%) of workers currently feel happy at work. While there is variation among industries, with construction and manufacturing workers emerging as the happiest – nearly 8 in 10 (78%) state they are happy at work compared with only 54% of retail workers – the bottom line is, all industries should be looking for ways to make their workers happier.

Against this backdrop, the question on the minds of all employers is what exactly is the recipe for employee happiness? According to the survey, one of the most overlooked factors in creating happy employees is appreciation. 80% of workers said that feeling appreciated is important to their happiness at work, ahead of salary (58%). Worryingly however, less than half (45%) of employees actually say they feel appreciated by their company, indicating that there is work for businesses to do to show appreciation and boost the happiness of their staff.

The research reveals that organisations looking to unlock the value of a happy team should consider the following steps:

Focus on the workplace environment

Half of workers feel that the office environment is important to their happiness at work, but disappointingly, only a quarter (25%) say that a good workplace environment is a current positive about their work. Different office personalities will have different requirements from their working environment and employers should conduct a workplace survey to discover what their employees want and need from their workplace and introduce the required changes. Small additions can make a big difference and relatively simple steps such as ensuring more natural light and using space more efficiently can really improve a working environment as well as demonstrate to employees that they are being listened to.

Invest in tech

The survey found that having the right tools and technology to ‘do the job properly’ was found to be the leading factor in helping people feel appreciated at work, with 79% of respondents agreeing with this. As only 55% of employees state that they currently do have the right tools and technology, employers must ensure that workers’ jobs are being helped not hindered by investing in the technology that will best support them to do their jobs. The right technology will also enable employees to work flexibly and maximise all available office space, including quiet and communal areas.

Encourage friendships at work

More people consider ‘friendships at work’ (63%) as a current positive about their work than any other factor – ahead of flexible working (43%) and rewarding work (36%). To build on this, employers should ensure that the workplace is actively helping to develop friendships. Communal social spaces and informal breakout areas are found to be instrumental in helping build friendships at work.

Boost company culture

The happiest workers are most likely to say that a good company culture is important to their happiness. However, nationally only 22% of workers currently state that they have a good company culture, something businesses must urgently look to address. A positive company culture will mean different things to different people so employers should engage directly with their staff through a number of methods to discover what is and isn’t working and, wherever possible, introduce meaningful change. This will help create a positive and supportive office environment around the company’s greatest asset – its people.

If employers can demonstrate their appreciation to their employees by investing in training and development, tools and technology and cultivating the right office environment, a happier, more engaged workforce is likely to emerge.

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