In an environment where job hopping is at an all-time high and engagement an all-time low, business leaders are desperate to crack the code of employee happiness. After all, a happier workforce benefits businesses in so many ways. People satisfied with their careers are less stressed and, as a result, more productive and creative. They're also less likely to leave for other jobs, meaning businesses save time and money by not having to interview, hire and train new employees.
So what's the answer to the dilemma of unhappiness at work? Many businesses are following in the footsteps of tech companies and providing perks like office ping-pong tables and cold-pressed juice. Company culture is certainly important, but it's not the primary answer. Plus, many employees don't even like fresh apple-spinach-kale drinks.
Thankfully, recent research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology points to what many employees actually like, giving business leaders an idea of how to boost the mood of their workforce. After reviewing five separate studies, researchers concluded that feeling a important to an organization is the biggest factor influencing employee happiness.
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Feeling Important, Feeling Happy
The JOOP study specifically pointed to linchpins: individuals whose roles are so essential to the company that the business simply can't exist without them. For example, as the Harvard Business Review detailed, a marketing agency can't survive without marketers, and a tech company can't operate without developers. However, a marketer at a tech company or a developer at a marketing agency aren't vital positions. They're certainly helpful, and many companies would refuse to eliminate them if told to do so, but they aren't essential to the core product of the business.
"Cultivating a feeling of importance is essential to keeping employees happy and engaged."
While not every person can be a linchpin within their organization, the study's results indicate cultivating a feeling of importance is essential to keeping employees happy and engaged. Even though our hypothetical tech marketer isn't a linchpin, that position is necessary in today's competitive world. Consider the results of the 2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, which found approximately 540,000 Americans start their own businesses every month. Marketers that help these new businesses stand apart from the crowd are incredibly useful,
Of course, not every employee feels important, regardless of what their job title says. It's easy for a person to feel like a robot when he or she is one among many others in the same role. To use an example, Gallup pointed out that city workers in the U.S. are incredibly unengaged despite the fact their jobs are arguably more vital than ever. Local governments across the nation are on tight budgets, but residents and local businesses need an increasing amount of services. Unfortunately, the fact that city employees are so disengaged doesn't help at all. In fact, Gallup estimates this lack of employee engagement costs taxpayers $18 billion each year.
The proposed solution was to recognize employees for their individual contributions. No one wants to feel replaceable, regardless of whether they're a CEO or a sanitary worker.
That's why the goal-setting process is so important. It gives employees the opportunity to create objectives that reflect and reiterate their individuality while keeping them aligned with their peers and the business as a whole. What's more, visibility through goal-setting software lets everyone see how their tasks relate to those around them. This tells people exactly how their daily workloads contribute to the success of their peers.