Myths Behind Workplace Happiness, Positivity and Productivity

Think office ping pong, free snacks, and an open-floor plan is leading to better productivity? Think again. Wrike’s latest report debunks the myths behind workplace happiness and digs into how perks, diversity, and collaboration actually impact employee happiness and productivity.

Myths Behind Workplace Happiness, Positivity and Productivity
Myths Behind Workplace Happiness, Positivity and Productivity

What’s in the article:

  • Employees who are elated with their jobs are 40% more likely to say they’re also very productive compared to the average employee.
  • 4 out of 10 employees say they’ve taken a pay cut at some point in their career to accept a job that made them happier.
  • More than 90% of elated employees in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany describe diversity in their workplaces as “average” or “above average.”

Content Summary

Introduction
The jig is up
Myth #1: “People don’t leave their job — they leave their manager”
Myth #2: “Compensation is the top factor in workplace happiness”
Myth #3: “Physical closeness leads to a happier culture”
The makeup of a happy employee

Introduction

Happy employees are an invaluable asset to any company. They radiate positivity, camaraderie, and tend to stick around for a while. In terms of efficiency, it’s in companies’ best interest to put their best foot forward when it comes to employee happiness. Happy employees are 4% better at customer service, commit 26% fewer clinical errors, demonstrate 79% lower burnout, and have a 61% lower likelihood of leaving than unhappy employees.

Employees who are elated with their jobs are 40% more likely to say they’re also very productive compared to the average employee. Happiness is a key component to a thriving and engaged company culture.

Shawn Achor, happiness expert, GoodThink Co-Founder and CEO, and TED Talk speaker says, “The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged brain. The human brain at positive has an unfair advantage over that same brain at negative or neutral. When we are positive, we show 31% increase in productivity.”

The fact of the matter is, when your employees are happy, they do great work.

The jig is up

We like to believe we know the makeup of a happy employee. A competitive salary, plenty of social events, beer offered on tap — we’ve been led to believe that these perks attract and retain the happiest employees. But what if the perks that were once so alluring have lost their luster?

Today, the elevated value of a healthy work-life balance and plenty of time off to recharge is making unique and enticing perks like free dinners, laundry facilities, and napping pods look more like a bait-and-switch than a benefit. “If the hiring manager is offering free dinners, transportation home, and nap rooms, take note. These could be red flags that you’re expected to work unusually long hours,” says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert at TopResume.

So if companies are spending money on perks and benefits that don’t truly make employees happy… what does? Where should companies shift their focus to foster happiness and positivity in the workplace?

We partnered with Atomik Research to survey 4,000 workers across the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States to put these myths to rest and expose the truth behind what really makes employees thrive.

Myth #1: “People don’t leave their job — they leave their manager”

Effective leadership is crucial to building a business. Without leaders who can hire and inspire, morale plummets and motivation is lost. However, when there’s a spike in employee turnover, we tend to point the finger at individual leaders and ignore the myriad of other factors that contributed to driving them away.

The Reality
Employees don’t leave their manager— they leave the work.

According to our survey, when asked to rank the top factors that impact their workplace happiness, the happiest employees rank management and leadership below “flexible hours” and “company culture.” Even the unhappiest employees rank it below “compensation” and “doing meaningful work.”

“Compensation,” “flexible hours,” and “doing meaningful work” are the top contributing factors to happiness. This tells us these factors are just as influential as (if not more influential than) management.

Collaborative work management (CWM) software users are 91% more likely than non-users to say they have a “very good” relationship with their manager.

The Solution
Management isn’t totally out of the woods. At the end of the day, managers are responsible for designing the work that’s driving their employees away. If we want to improve retention and happiness, it’s time to change the way work is designed.

Customizing how work gets done so it fits the specific needs of your team is your best chance at retaining happy employees. For example, most managers hire people for jobs. Facebook does the opposite. Their best managers design the work around the talent. This promotes confidence and trust from the employee by not only emphasising the value their company sees in them but by reinforcing the value they see in themselves.

Tedious administrative tasks that have low impact are necessary but bog your team down. By embracing tools with automation capabilities, such as pre-built templates, app integrations, and auto-assign requests, you can design work in a way that fits your employees’ personalities and pace for optimum productivity and happiness.

Designing work around people will not only attract the best talent but will also improve diversity across your company. Allowing people the flexibility to work in different ways promotes diverse forms of learning, teaching, growing, and thinking. Happy employees are 30% more likely to say their office diversity is “above average” than unhappy employees. Diversity not only encompasses gender and ethnicity, but also adds different backgrounds, strengths, and perspectives to your team, allowing your team to learn from one another and explore new ideas and concepts.

Diversity in the workplace for the happiest workers
Diversity in the workplace for the happiest workers

Resource allocation tools make it possible for your team to shine by assigning people the projects that suit them best. Track workload and capacity, so your team feels challenged without feeling overloaded. Resource management tools help you oversee production and impact, while your team focuses on quality and output.

Myth #2: “Compensation is the top factor in workplace happiness”

It’s a universal belief that everything has a price tag — and it’s no question that higher pay is a reliable incentive to do good work. But with more money usually comes more responsibility, more meetings, and more work. If you’re not happy with your job before your pay bump, it’s safe to say you won’t be happy after.

The Reality
Meaningful work has a more substantial and fulfilling impact on happiness than compensation.

According to our survey, a majority of the happiest employees in the U.S., U.K., and Germany all rank “doing meaningful work” as the #1 factor for happiness, over both “compensation” and “flexible hours.” France is the only exception of the 4 countries surveyed, ranking “compensation” only 3% higher than “meaningful work.”

Majority of the happiest employees in the U.S., U.K., and Germany all rank “doing meaningful work” as the #1 factor for happiness
Majority of the happiest employees in the U.S., U.K., and Germany all rank “doing meaningful work” as the #1 factor for happiness

In fact, 4 out of 10 employees say they’ve taken a pay cut at some point in their career to accept a job that made them happier. This tells us that seeing the value and impact employees make as individuals is worth more than compensation.

In the U.S. specifically, meaningful work is especially important to happiness. Over half (58%) of full-time U.S. employees say they’ve taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier at work.

The Solution
Many employees are unaware of or detached from their company’s vision. In fact, 61% of respondents said their company vision either only resonates with them somewhat or doesn’t at all. How can employees see the impact or value of their work when they’re in the dark about the company’s mission and objectives?

When it comes to company vision, it’s important that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals. Scheduling regular discussions on company mission and direction can help answer some questions and improve employee engagement. Hosting post-mortem sessions after big projects are completed helps celebrate successes and learn from failures.

Explicitly tying individual work to company goals and objectives is another way to make work meaningful. By using objectives and key results (OKRs) as a goal-measuring stick, you can nest individual and team goals directly under companywide objectives so you know exactly where you’re adding value.

This also provides greater visibility and insight to your employees, so everyone’s in sync on priorities and direction. Connecting daily tasks and team initiatives to larger objectives will not only show individuals how their work is making an impact but also unify cross-team efforts with company vision.

Myth #3: “Physical closeness leads to a happier culture”

As more companies recognise the value of collaboration, open workspaces, more meeting rooms, and common areas have emerged in offices across the globe. France, Germany, and the U.K. have been quick to transform their workspaces with most of their employees working in open office layouts. The U.S. is slightly behind with 30% working in a private office and 25% in open floor plans.

Did you know? The Larkin Administration Building opening in 1906 in the U.S. was dubbed the first modern office. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and highlighted an open office plan.

Workspaces around the world
Workspaces around the world

But does working closer actually boost happiness in the workplace? Or are we artificially amplifying the role proximity plays in collaboration?

Should we meet? Think twice about scheduling that next meeting. Over a quarter of employees say if they could eliminate one thing from their work day, it would be meetings and conference calls.

The Reality
Collaboration is about process not proximity.

Despite these changes to improve collaboration, less than half of employees (45%) have a positive view of collaboration. As the cubicle walls come down, the ad-hoc tasks, “drive-by” requests, and office distractions go up — making it harder to focus on your work.

Forced team bonding is only making it worse. Only 31% of people who frequently attend happy hours actually enjoy going to them. In fact, 32% of people either attend out of obligation or don’t attend them altogether. It might be time to look at other ways to bond your team.

Build better team bonds. Check out our list of team building games you’ll actually enjoy, from scavenger hunts to human knots.

The Solution
Collaboration is invaluable and inevitable. Having the right tools to collaborate effectively is the best way to get your team collaborating happily. As more employees desire a flexible work culture and remote options to be happy, infrastructure and processes need to be built or reevaluated to support this transition.

Some 54% of elated employees say they love collaborating with remote team members because technology makes it easier.

Happy workers who say technology makes it easier to collaborate
Happy workers who say technology makes it easier to collaborate

The happiest workers recognise the value collaborative work management solutions offer when collaborating with their coworkers. In the U.S., users of collaborative work management software were over 2 and a half times more likely than nonusers to say they “love” collaborating with their remote team members and that technology makes it easy.

Q: Which of the following statements best describes how you feel about collaborating with remote team members?
Q: Which of the following statements best describes how you feel about collaborating with remote team members?

Flexible Gantt charts, calendar views, and customisable dashboards allow your team to collaborate from anywhere by providing real-time status updates and notifications. Proofing and approval capabilities allow your team to assign designated reviewers of work and obtain contextual feedback. Resource allocation and reporting tools help managers stay on top of projects, align priorities, and track productivity without continuously pulling your team into tedious status meetings and losing momentum.

The bottom line is: When collaboration lives all in one place, your team doesn’t have to.

The makeup of a happy employee

It’s time for companies to stop throwing beer taps and foosball tables in the break room and expecting an elated workforce. Here is what happy employees really want and need:

Happy employees value their time and money over forced bonding.
The majority of elated employees would prefer a $50 gift card as a reward for a job well done, except in Germany, where they would prefer the option of leaving work early. These rewards were chosen over company swag, happy hour, and free lunch.

Happy employees are more productive.
While the U.S. tops the productivity charts with 91% of elated employees claiming they’re “very productive,” about two-thirds of elated German and French employees say the same. The majority of elated U.K. employees also cite high productivity. When administrative or repetitive tasks are automated, employees are confident that they can be productive by focusing on the work that makes an impact.

Q: Generally, how productive are you at your job?
Q: Generally, how productive are you at your job?

Happy employees hit the ground running.
The majority of elated employees across all 4 regions say they start their workdays “always” knowing their priorities. None of the U.S. or German elated employees surveyed report “rarely” or “never” knowing their daily priorities. And just 3% of elated U.K. employees and 1% of French face this uncertainty. When employees have visibility into their daily tasks and how those tasks tie in to larger initiatives, they can build their own workflow and come in every day knowing what their top priorities are.

Happy employees thrive in a diverse work environment.
More than 90% of elated employees in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany describe diversity in their workplaces as “average” or “above average,” with the U.S. and U.K. leading the pack.

Q: How would you describe the diversity (gender, age, ethnicity, race) in your workplace?
Q: How would you describe the diversity (gender, age, ethnicity, race) in your workplace?

Happy employees want to know their work is meaningful.
Most elated employees rank “meaningful work” as the top factor for happiness in the workplace. Meaningful work wins out over great leadership, office location, and other key happiness factors in the U.S., U.K., and Germany. The only region where “meaningful work” does not rank as the top happiness factor among elated employees is France, where it comes in second, after compensation.

Source: Wrike

Published by Silvia Emma

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