Ask any employer or recruiter and they’ll tell you the importance of a happy workforce. With increasing focus over the past few years on the impact of good wellbeing, particularly in the workplace, it looks as though fostering and creating an engaged team will continue to be an important topic for those in HR. And yet approximately 43% of workers in the UK report feeling undervalued. So why should employers prioritise employee wellbeing? How can it benefit their company? And what strategies can they implement to create and/or maintain a happy, engaged workforce?
The benefits of a happy workforce:
It will come as no surprise to hear that an engaged and proactive workforce brings many benefits. But what constitutes a happy workforce? According to a report by Harvard Business Review, the engagement of a workforce can be measured by their feeling “valued, secure, supported, and respected”. And the impact of this positive workforce and the positives it brings to the workplace have been the subject of several studies published in recent years. Businesses with happy and engaged staff can expect fewer workplace accidents, lower levels of absenteeism, higher productivity, and higher levels of staff retention.
As this implies, having a happy and engaged workforce can also have major positive repercussions for a business’s bottom line. As discussed by The HR Consultants, not only will companies save costs on training and recruiting new staff, they will also save money by not having to recruit as many staff, as a more proactive and productive workforce will complete more tasks in less time.
Furthermore, a study by engageforsuccess.org found that organisations who have workforces with higher levels of engagement on average experience 2.5 times greater revenue growth and doubled profits in comparison with low-engagement businesses. So not only will your staff be powering through their workload, but they will also boost the bank balance. But what happens when staff wellbeing and engagement is not prioritised?
The negatives of an unhappy workforce:
As you may expect, having a disengaged or under-valued workforce can also have implications for a business. The report by Harvard Business Review also found that 60-80% of workplace accidents are triggered by or related to workplace stress, and it’s estimated that almost 80% of visits to doctors are as a result of stress, which can cause health complications such as cardiovascular disease in the long term.
Although these figures are representative for the US population, it’s likely that we’d see a similar pattern here in the UK. Stress-related illness is known to have major implications for employee health and wellbeing, and, to reference the report, “wellbeing comes from…one place only – a positive culture”. So how can employers create or foster a workplace environment with happy staff?
What employers can do to create and/or maintain engaged employees
To quote Andrew Tobin, CEO of Stryve, “Creating a happy workforce requires a change of perspective for traditionally trained management.” If a company is currently reporting high numbers of staff turnover, absenteeism, or work-related stress leave, they need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Chances are their current structure isn’t working, and they’ll need to spend time curating an environment that proves that they value their employees.
Once this is in place, employers and HR staff can put actions and procedures in place that will directly impact the happiness of their staff. The first step should always be to ensure adequate communication between team members and with senior staff. This ensures employees are being heard within an organisation.
Employees should also be rewarded for things they have done well. And whilst we’re not suggesting that you take them on a 5-star, all-expenses-paid holiday, just a small thank you email, note, or card shows that you value their input and effort. Any criticism given should be relayed constructively, so staff know that they are not being punished for making human errors, just shown how they could do things differently in the future.
Other suggestions to establish a workplace that prioritises staff include ensuring policies and procedures are up to date so staff feel secure, discussing progress and development opportunities with your team so their ambitions are valued, empathising with employees if they are struggling to show they are supported, and listening to the needs and wants of your team, such as the importance of flexibility for many people in the modern workplace, so they understand their requirements are respected.
Creating, fostering, and maintaining a happy and engaged workforce takes time, effort, and resources. But what employers receive back in return is far greater than what they put in, both in terms of the productivity and success of their staff, and the financial benefits for their business.
Has your company recently focused more of their resources on prioritising employee wellbeing and happiness? What strategies have worked for you? Get in touch and let us know your thoughts on the subject.