Why You Should Care About Your Employees' Happiness

happy-workersDo you care if your employees are happy? Does it matter to you if they like what they’re doing? Are you the least concerned that they would rather be working for someone else?

Your answers to these questions reveal more than you know. They explain why your employees are or are not productive.1

Did you get that? To look at it another way, unhappy employees are also unproductive ones.

And so if you’re like many managers who say, “We don’t believe in all that touchy-feely stuff. People either do what we tell them, or we get rid of them” – if that’s your attitude, then you shouldn’t be surprised when your company’s profits fall.

This problem begins even before new employees begin their first day. And it doesn’t matter if they’ve been in the workforce for many years, or if they’re just starting.

People quickly pick-up on your organization’s culture.

The job market hasn’t been very good for the past several years, and it may be some time before the economy gets back to normal.

During such times, it’s easy for managers to become complacent about their staff. Quite often they take them for granted; after all there are plenty of people who would be thrilled to have their jobs.

But just because your employee turnover is low doesn’t mean that no one wants to leave. More likely, it’s because they can’t, at least for now.

And so that means that if you want to cultivate an experienced and productive workforce, then you have to make them happy.

Just for a moment, imagine that you’re in their shoes. When you think about going to work, it fills you with negative emotions.

You don’t want to go because you will have to spend eight, ten, or twelve hours with someone who doesn’t like you and is fond of reminding you of all the things you do wrong.

Your supervisor has turned micro-management into an art form, telling you not to think; only to do as you’re told.

And the criticism starts as soon as you walk in the door.

You rarely get time off when you want it, and it’s not unusual for your schedule to change on short notice.

It seems that your company is always short-staffed. No wonder.

Do any of these statements describe your organization or team?

Everyone has bad days. Sometimes even the simplest things don’t work as they should.

Computers, for example. We can’t live with them, but we can’t do without them; and email has become the bane of 21st century existence.

Happiness comes from how we interpret our experiences.2

But, if we’re constantly bombarded, day after day with criticism by others, then eventually we’ll become dissatisfied with our place of employment and, for some that discouragement will lead to despondency.3

One of the most remarkable outcomes of happy employees is that it is a win-win situation. Usually, when we hear that phrase, it refers to a business deal where both parties got at least something of what they wanted.

Rarely, it seems, does it have anything to do with the relationships that employees have with their managers and employers. And yet, the success of your company depends on the “win-win” between your employees and their managers.

The research shows clearly that happy employees are more productive. So, how can you make your employees happy? In a nutshell, it’s by respecting who they are.4

What Respect Looks Like

Fundamentally, respect means recognizing and appreciating the value that each of your employees bring to your company.

It’s about their unique talents – the things like their education, social skills, and abilities. Even their hobbies can make them better at what they do.

Too often, employers look upon their staff as cogs in a giant wheel of the business machinery. It can be difficult for employees to respect themselves when their managers think little of them.

What else can you do to help them to be happy?

You need to let them be authentic; to be themselves. That means that they must be permitted to express their personalities.

Although there are exceptions, most self-expression has no bearing on job performance. Quite the opposite. Levity and fun makes people happy, and that makes them more productive.5

If you really believe that your people are your greatest asset, then respect them. It’s never too late to start.


  1. http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html
  2. http://lyubomirsky.socialpsychology.org/
  3. http://www.worldlabour.org/eng/node/577
  4. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/treat-employees-respect-increase-productivity-31072.html
  5. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20095630-501465.html
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As the founder of Emergent (www.EmergentConsultants.com), my team and I provide strategic change and program management consulting to Fortune 500 and midmarket companies. As strategists, planners, and roll-up-the-sleeves implementers, we are exceptional at what we do.Clients include Walgreens, JetBlue, Lowe’s, Mattel, Gap Inc., and many other names you would know. Typically we partner with project teams, organizational development and HR leaders, and executive sponsors.Our specialty is complex high-stakes business initiatives involving corporate restructuring, organizational redesign, mergers, technology deployments, process reengineering, and cost-cutting. We enable our clients to accelerate adoption, speed implementation, and realize ROI sooner.Emergent is the developer three online tools: --Change Accelerator (www.ChangeAccelerator.com) --Savvy Transition (www.SavvyTransition.com) --TransformationReady (www.TransformationReady.com)We also publish Emergent Journal (www.EmergentJournal.com) and the Emergent Insights newsletter (scroll down the page for a link to subscribe).My background includes consulting for Booz & Company (now Strategy&), Right Management, and Accenture. Prior to consulting, I served as Director of Marketing for tech company COS, Inc. (a “Facebook" for the scientific research community in the 90s). I contribute to articles for ProjectsAtWork, Forrester, Leadership & Change, TechTarget, N2, and others.