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Why happiness at work is more important than ever

Happiness is a very important feeling that many people strive for in all areas of their lives, including at work – where we all spend a third of our lives. Employers that recognise this and prioritise employee happiness and invest a people first business culture, will be the ones that come out on top.

Why is happiness at work important?

At a time when the economic landscape is tough, businesses may be considering new ways to engage their workforce and support them further. Creating a happy workplace environment is a crucial step to help businesses retain and attract top talent. Employees that feel a high level of job satisfaction, for reasons such as their values align with their employers, and they feel respected, will be less open to new job opportunities, and less likely to change roles.

Curating a happy workplace will also help to attract new talent easier. A business that prioritises its employees and their values, responsibilities, and life commitments, will naturally develop a wonderful reputation of being a good place to work. Individuals looking for new career opportunities will undoubtably be drawn to a company that has built a reputation of valuing its employees, building different engagement programmes, and regularly checking in with everyone.

A happier workforce also tends to mean a more productive one. A study by the University of Warwick found that happiness made people around 12% more productive at work. Research has also found employees are 23 per cent less likely to experience burnout if they’re happy at work. A productive, healthy workforce will only benefit a business and the teams overall morale, but it will also have a positive impact on its bottom line – a clear win-win.

Here’s how business leaders and HR practitioners can go about fostering a happy workforce.

Social interaction in a hybrid world   

Social interactions and relationships are valued highly in the workplace. Since the adoption of hybrid working, some companies have adopted fewer in-person team interactions, which can leave people feeling socially distant. In person, workplace interactions help to unite team members and allow employees to form meaningful relationships with each other. Setting up a weekly team catch up in the office, a monthly team lunch, or organising a team experience, with the aim of bringing the wider team together, are great ways to encourage team members to grow closer as colleagues, and as friends. Finding ways to help colleagues bond outside of – often transactional – work interactions can boost overall team morale and workplace engagement. 

Creating a supportive workplace culture

Employees want to go to work and feel at ease – their workplace should be a safe space. Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their worries and challenges will ensure employees feel heard and valued in the workplace, but also help employers identify how they can support their employees in the long run. Finding third party support, such as mental health specialists or financial experts, available to employees is a great way to support employee wellbeing. Alternatively, introducing a flexible working policy or providing additional childcare support will help support employees with family or caring responsibilities.   

Reward employees for their work 

An unexpected gift or reward will be welcomed openly and will lift anyone’s mood, especially if its well-deserved. One way to reward and recognise excellent work or company loyalty is through a companywide celebration of achievements and progress in an organisation – or publicly sharing praise on an internal comms platform. Recognising employees work through initiatives like ‘Employee of the Month’ or ‘Top Performer’ will make employees feel engaged, valued, and respected. As well as a showing employees verbal appreciation, employers could also give deserving employees a gift card or physical gift such as a voucher to their favourite restaurant or an experience they can enjoy with their friends or family, to thank them for their hard work or long-service to the business. A perk like this outside of the usual workplace environment can feel extra special and again re-enforce your commitment to people’s happy lives as a whole.

Employee happiness can help a company and its people flourish. A positive work environment and excellent team dynamic leads to higher employee engagement and performance levels. Not only this, but a good workplace is likely to attract and retain the top talent. Business leaders should remember that employee happiness is and should always be a priority in the workplace. 

By Danni Rush, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Experience Days, Virgin Incentives and Virgin Experience Gifts

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