Successful companies like Zappos (which was purchased by Amazon for over R1 billion) understand that their most important asset is their people, but not just their people – but rather happy people! Research has proven that happiness is a precursor to success and not vice versa. Happy people are also more productive and less absent.
The big question that clients ask me when I share this research with them is, “How do we make our people happy?”. The answer is unfortunately not what they want to hear and as a business coach it’s my duty to share reality in an unemotional way… “You cannot make people happy, period”. That being said, I share 3 strategies they can follow to ensure their workplace includes happy people.
The 1st strategy is to employ happy people. No one can really make a person happy. People can only make themselves happy and it is not a company’s job to make people happy (see the 2nd strategy for what is considered a company’s responsibility). Therefore, if you employ people that are already happy, you are halfway to success.
The 2nd strategy is to create an environment where people can be happy. The employer’s responsibility in creating this environment is to be extremely clear on what the goals of the company are. You can test this by asking your employees what these goals are in an anonymous employee survey. It is also important to share information about behaviour with your employees – do they know what behaviours are acceptable? Do they know what is encouraged and discouraged? Business coaches and consultants refer to this either as the core values of the company or the company culture. The trick here is to relate behaviours to specifics values, for example, at your next company meeting share an example of an employee living out one of the values, let’s say for honesty. A possible story could be how an employee picked up a wallet with money in it and handed it in to reception.
The 3rd strategy is to release employees to industry when they are not a cultural fit for the company. Employees that don’t have the same value system as the company will be unhappy at the company in the long run. I have seen this play out again and again. People like people who believe in the same things (this is true for any kind of relationship). If a person is not happy at a company they will start to spread negative energy and it is your duty to other employees to prevent this spread as soon as possible. I always suggest that clients have open and honest conversations with employees on this subject and to even go so far as to help an employee, who is not a good cultural fit, find work at a company that is more in line with their values. Not only will you be doing your company a favour but you will be doing them a favour, nudging them towards their own happiness and success.