Only 37% of us are happy at work – what should employers be doing about it?
My survey which was taken by just over 1,000 people in the UK, paints a bleak picture of the UK workforce - 63% of us are not happy in our work. Unsurprisingly, this correlates with high levels of stress and anxiety, and low levels of focus and productivity.
But there is good news. My research also clearly shows where we have unmet needs and that there are opportunities for employers to address these, in order to reverse the tide.
And in even better news - just in case your employer needs convincing to do better by its people - doing better by employees is good for business and leads to increased financial profits. So, all you need to do is leave this article somewhere your boss will see it. Or, if self-employed, just read it.
Here are 5 things employers need to do to make their staff happier, more productive, which can lead to and to great financial rewards.
Ensure staff have a good work/ life balance
This has the biggest influence on whether people are happy at work. And shockingly 44% of us don’t have a good work/life balance. For a healthy work/life balance to become engrained in the culture, senior members of staff need to lead by example; they should be sticking to agreed working hours, and not communicating with colleagues outside of office hours.
Allowing staff to work flexible hours to fit in around their life outside of work, shifting to a task-based rather than a time-based working model, and offering a 4-day working week have all been shown to reduce stress, while increasing happiness and productivity in the workplace.
Look after the health and wellbeing of staff
This has the next biggest bearing on happiness in the workplace. 9 out of 10 people say this is important to them and yet half of people feel there is more that can be done to look after their health at work. Alarmingly, over half of people don’t describe their mental health as good.
Employers need to realise that huge workloads, frequent meetings and constant emails are taking their toll on staff, and productivity is taking a hit as a result. People need to be able to do their jobs while also finding time to eat properly, spend time outside, exercise and rest.
Solutions include insisting staff take regular breaks, providing relaxed and comfortable spaces to take them in, encouraging walking meetings and calls, and providing mental health support. Also, investing in personal growth helps people to understand themselves, others and to communicate more effectively.
Make sure employees have opportunities to do meaningful work
83% say it is important to them to have the opportunity to do meaningful work but only a third feel they do meaningful work. The key here is work that is meaningful to them.
Staff should be involved in decision making and goal setting, so that they play a willing part in the action, rather than feel like they are being dragged along on someone else’s project, or even rudderless.
They should also be asked what they want from their career and given opportunities to follow their passions. The result will be employees who have a sense of purpose and can fulfil their potential and make an impact.
Contribute towards bettering society
Almost three quarters say it is important to them to have the opportunity to work for an organisation that contributes towards bettering society. But just over half don’t think making improvements to society is prioritised in their line of work. There are lots of ways society and local community groups need supporting, whether by investing time, resources, and/or money.
68% say it is important to them to work for an organisation that is sustainable but 60% don’t think sustainability is prioritised in their line of work. This can be remedied through showing awareness and caring about environmental impact, innovating to work sustainably, supporting environmental programs, and setting sustainability goals.
Laura Lyon is an experienced researcher and expert in trends. She is currently writing a whitepaper on how organisations can do better by their employees, society, and the environment, and how this is not only the right thing to do but will drive future financial success.