• April 2010

Happiness in the workplace: Embrace It

By Paige Rhodes
Chief Executive Officer
Rhodes & Weinstock

In my line of work, I get to see happiness created every day. I help people who are out of work, or unhappy in their current job, find new jobs so they can feed their families and build their careers.

I also get to help my clients hire talented, hard working employees who will make their companies better. Yes, I love what I do.

But I know that life in the workforce of 2010 is not all roses and sunshine. Some jobs aren’t fun or fulfilling. Some companies don’t provide the best work environments. And some bosses don’t provide open lines of communication or empower employees to be or do their best.

Having been a recruiter for decades, I have seen hundreds — if not thousands — of cases where employees and employers could have worked their way through some of these conflicts if only they understood some of the basic rules of how to create happiness in the workplace.

Rule 1: Understand what employees are looking for.

Research indicates that employees who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to stay with their employers. It is not surprising. In fact, during the current economic downturn, employees rated job security as the most important aspect of their job satisfaction for the second consecutive year.

Both employees and employers believe that the meaningfulness of the job is also very important to overall job satisfaction. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently published its 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Survey Report, and employees ranked the following five aspects as the most important in defining job satisfaction:

  • Job Security
  • Benefits
  • Compensation/Pay
  • Opportunities to Use Skills and Abilities
  • Feeling Safe in the Work Environment

Also high on the list:

  • Relationship with Immediate Supervisor
  • Management Recognition of Employee Job Performance
  • Communication Between Employees and Senior Management
  • The Work Itself
  • Autonomy and Independence

Rule 2: Invest in your employees’ happiness.

If you own a small business or company there are many things that you can do to create an environment where your employees will be happy to come to work.

Create a comfortable, engaging corporate culture: Define the mission of your company and give your employees an overall goal to work toward — from profit sharing to doing better than the competition or celebrating your success with annual events. If your employees feel like they are on a strong team, they’ll work hard on a regular basis.

Provide good benefits and flexibility: In our current place and time, benefits and flexibility can more than make up for differences in compensation. Allowing people to telecommute or work from home one day a week can mean more to a working mom or a professional caring for aging parents than an extra 10k in salary. For employees to be able to adjust their work hours to avoid rush hour traffic or to completely avoid one day of commuting each week can make a huge difference in job satisfaction.

Discuss salary: Money is important, and salaries are easy to quantify. Unfortunately, they are often used as the “be all, end all” in regards to job value and job satisfaction. If this were true, however, no one would work for a nonprofit and every executive would be happy. Salary is just one factor in what gives a job its value.

Of course, do pay your employees fairly. But create other measures for success. Reward those employees who have gone above and beyond with a perk of some kind. And when times are tough and you can’t compensate your employees with raises, take time to tell them how much you value them. You’ll be surprised how far a little authentic praise can go with a hardworking employee.

Communicate: Employees need to feel that their voices are heard and that their actions are acknowledged — good or bad. No one enjoys working in a vacuum. So talk to them, and encourage them to talk to you.

Give employees autonomy: People need to feel that they are important and that they are involved in the mission, not just another cog in a machine. When you give employees the authority to make decisions and take responsibility for their outcomes, they feel empowered — and responsible for making good choices.

Step 3: If you are an employee, work to make yourself happy.

Finding happiness in your job is not always easy, especially if you are doing something you aren’t passionate about. But I can tell you from experience that every job you have will teach you something important that you will use in your next position. So look for the good things in your job — from helping others in some meaningful way to learning a new skill — to make you feel that what you are doing each day is worthwhile.

And by all means, even if you hate your job, make the best of the situation.

“Research shows that positive feelings reduce stress, build up the immune system and even enable people to think more holistically and be open to new ideas and solve problems more quickly, efficiently and intelligently,” says JoAnna Brandi, publisher of a training program designed to teach managers The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care.

“Happy employees have a broader range of options to draw from; they are more creative and helpful,” JoAnna explains. “They are better equipped emotionally to create happy, loyal, referral generating customers. Ultimately, happy employees are more resilient. They help create resilient companies — ones that can withstand the challenges of an ever changing, increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Go ahead — smile when you talk on the phone, say hello to people on the street or in the elevator, and do your best to help someone every day. You’ll be amazed at how fast feelings of satisfaction will improve.

Step 4: Remember the Golden Rule.

At the end of the day, remember this: We are all struggling to make ends meet, feel fulfilled, and develop careers that we love. So keep plugging, and keep smiling. A positive attitude will make you a much happier employee, employer, parent, and person.

About Paige Rhodes

Prior to co-founding Rhodes & Weinstock in 2009, Paige Rhodes spent more than 15 years in staffing, human resources and law-firm management.

Throughout her career, she gained an intricate knowledge of the temporary, temp-to-hire and direct placement services. In addition to her staffing industry experience, Paige also spent several years in human resources, and as an HR manager at two large law firms in the DC metropolitan area.

The combination of in-house and outplacement recruiting experience gives her a unique understanding of the hiring needs and concerns of her clients, from large multinational corporations to small start-ups.

Paige prides herself on developing long-term relationships with her candidates and clients. She believes superior customer service and honesty are the cornerstones of a successful business relationship. Paige is a member of the American Staffing Association and the National Association of Women Business Owners. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and a proud Gator!

Click here to learn more about Rhodes & Weinstock. Contact Paige at prhodes@r-wgroup.com.