A new buzzword is making the rounds in business news circles. Quiet quitting is a fresh face on an old concept of employees who do just enough not to get fired. Growing awareness of quiet quitting may suggest that after years of Covid-related disruptions, many workers feel dissatisfied at the office. The statistics back up this theory. Since the pandemic, 24 per cent of Canadian workers report feeling dissatisfied with their jobs. The numbers are even higher among certain industries, with institutional workers at 42 per cent and educational and social services workers at 38 per cent.
Unhappy employees don’t just bring down the mood at all-hands meetings. They can sink a business’s bottom line as well. Dissatisfied employees are less productive. They take more sick days, and they’re more likely to leave when they perceive a better opportunity somewhere else.
Happy employees, on the other hand, channel their job satisfaction into producing quality work, bringing in more customers and high profit margins. That’s a win for the company, employees, and customers. In other words, the secret to your company’s success might just be making your employees happier. Here’s more on why employee satisfaction is so important, as well as tips on how to make employees happier.
Why Employee Happiness Matters
Research has shown that happiness is significantly and positively related to productivity. Yet, many companies may be overlooking low-hanging fruit when it comes to improving business performance and increasing profits. That low-hanging fruit? It’s the people who stroll into the building each morning or check in from their remote offices.
Happy employees aren’t just easier and more pleasant to work with, but they can also transform a company’s bottom line. According to an analysis by the global leadership development consultancy iOpener Institute, happy employees:
Are two times more productive
Are six times more energized
Intend to stay two times as long at their organizations
Take one tenth as much sick leave as a business’s least happy employees
Based on these facts, it’s clear employee happiness plays a critical role in company’s performance and consequently, profit margins. In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, companies cannot afford unhappy employees — literally.
How to Boost Employee Happiness
Boosting employee engagement is easier said than done. Today’s employees, especially white-collar workers, have high expectations of their employers. How can employers meet and possibly exceed these expectations to keep their workforce happy, engaged, and productive?
Below are a few recommendations to get started.
Offer competitive pay and benefits
Competitive wages are a must to keep workers feeling valued. With an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent in Canada as of September 2022, skilled workers have plenty of options to jump ship and earn more.
Companies that want to set themselves apart should consider offering benefits above and beyond the normal packages employees expect. Instead of simple, typical perks such as free coffee and snacks (which, of course, aren’t bad per se), benefits that serve to truly enhance employee well-being and development can help make employees feel truly happier.
A few unique benefits to consider are:
Work from anywhere expense coverage
ID theft protection
Expanded wellness options
Equip employees for success
Workers can’t take ownership of their jobs if they don’t have adequate tools. While it might have once been simple to set up a central office where all employees came to work, companies face a new reality today. As a result of Covid-19, around 37 per cent of Canadian employees worked from home in May 2020. Though some of these workers may have returned to the office, a survey by Statistics Canada found that 80 per cent of new teleworkers wished to work from home at least half-time after the end of the pandemic.
Companies can offer the option of remote work as a big employee benefit, but only if they make sure their employees can succeed in a home office. That could mean providing tools like desks, laptops, smartphones, and second monitors, as well as comprehensive software solutions. Finally, workers may need additional training to work from home as well as support and buy-in from other departments.
Prioritize employee wellness
A 2021 study by ADP Canada and Maru Public Opinion found that among workers who reported satisfaction with their job, 31 per cent cited good work-life balance as their top criterion for staying at their job or searching for a new one, outweighing pay at 20 per cent. Now more than ever, employees want and even expect their jobs to offer flexibility in order to promote balance and wellness.
What does employee wellness actually look like? First, it’s important for employers to recognize that a good work-life balance means more than just extra time to spend on hobbies (though that’s important, too). Nearly 9 per cent of Canadians are living with a mental health-related disability. Unsurprisingly, that number increased by 2.7 percentage points between 2019 and 2021, when the pandemic threw normal life into disarray.
Promoting wellness means understanding and supporting employees where they are on an individual basis. While one employee may need a flexible schedule to pick children up from sports lessons, another employee may need time off during the day for therapy appointments. An employee with anxiety may prefer not to attend team meetings in person.
Employers need to be ready and willing to provide reasonable accommodations so their top employees have the space and support they need to thrive. Employees who feel they are cared for by their management team will be more likely to offer their best effort at work.
Cultivate a sense of belonging
As we become more aware that employees of different backgrounds and experiences can sometimes feel left out or overlooked, it’s more important than ever to build a sense of belonging. In Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, belonging was one of the most important employee (or “human capital”) issues of the year.
According to the report, 79 per cent of survey respondents agreed that creating a sense of belonging among employees was important to their company’s success. It’s easy to understand why employees with a strong sense of belonging — defined as a sense of feeling respected and being treated fairly — would be more engaged and productive at work.
What’s harder to determine is how to increase feelings of belonging at work. Efforts should start at the top. Managers should:
Work to create an environment where everyone is treated fairly and with respect
Immediately intervene if team dynamics start to turn toxic
Make an effort to enhance connections between teams
Take extra time to help remote workers feel included and valued
Communicate to employees that their contributions are meaningful
Encourage worker autonomy
No employee can truly feel full ownership of their work with a micromanager looking over their shoulder. Micromanaging is also a near-perfect way to erode worker trust, engagement, and self-esteem.
Happy workers are those who feel that they have a say in how they perform their work and design their day and activities. That isn’t to say that every worker needs complete autonomy. Instead, managers need to find a balance between guiding employees and allowing them the freedom and flexibility to let their strengths shine.
Every employee, position, and team is different and requires a unique level of oversight. In an article on cultivating autonomy at work for BetterUp, Maggie Wooll offers managers potential options to promote autonomy, including:
Letting employees set their deadlines
Letting employees design their processes
Asking for employee input on organizational goals
Allowing employees to decide where to work
Letting employees choose their benefits
Ask for employee feedback
You can’t know what’s making your employees unhappy or what would make them thrilled to keep working at your company unless you ask them. Before implementing any new measures to improve employee happiness, seek feedback. You might even be surprised by what you hear from your team. Maybe you assumed your employees wanted the option to work remotely when more of them would actually prefer flexible work schedules.
One way to seek employee feedback is to have in-depth conversations with each member of your team. However, many employees may be hesitant to mention the things they dislike to management directly. Oftentimes, a better option is to send out an anonymous employee satisfaction survey.
Consider sending out the survey at least once a year or possibly more often so you can actively track changes in employee satisfaction. Make sure questions are brief and clear. Consider adding open-ended questions to the survey so employees can offer personalized feedback and suggestions.
Use the survey to determine whether or not your company is hitting the mark on key indicators of employee happiness. For instance, ask questions that tell you how employees feel about their autonomy, well-being, and belonging at work.
Support Your Greatest Asset
Companies often claim their employees are their greatest asset, but claims must be put into action in order to succeed. Employees who feel disaffected, unengaged, and overlooked may decide it’s time to “quiet quit” and do just enough to skate by. Quiet quitters can drain a company’s resources, bog down productivity, and leave customers dissatisfied.
The key to employee happiness is not a mystery. Employees want to feel that they are seen and heard. They want to know their efforts are valued and that their company is willing to support them with good benefits, fair compensation, and added flexibility. When you take the time and effort to focus on the well-being of your employees, you’ll develop trust and engagement. Your team will reward your attention with hard work and loyalty. Everyone will win.