As business leaders, we are often told we should be primarily focused on the bottom line. Undoubtedly, the financial well-being of an organization is paramount to its competitive advantage and sustainability. However, many well-intentioned, successful business men and women are apt to wait until there is a negative impact to the financial documents or a noticeable issue with performance and productivity before identifying and implementing ways to improve its employees’ job satisfaction and joy.

Therefore, it is often in an organization’s best interest to proactively address this issue. Research indicates that employees who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to remain committed to their organization. Further, those satisfied employees typically will also perform more effectively and efficiently. Certainly employees must earn enough income to meet their needs and work in a safe environment, research also demonstrates that earning a living wage is not enough of a motivational factor to impact an employee’s job satisfaction long-term. In other words, money is not the answer. Being happy, excited, or joyful about the contribution we make at work, however, may make a significant difference in not only productivity but ultimately the bottom line.

How can employers positively impact ‘workplace joy’ experience by their employees?
First, conduct a job satisfaction audit. Remove any identified barriers or factors that contribute to negative stress in the workplace. After ensuring employees feel equipped for their jobs, have adequate resources and opportunities for growth, ask the following questions:

  • What are the policies and procedures that are negatively and unnecessarily impacting your organization and causing frustration or stress among your employees?
  • Are there expectations, communication methods, or organizational structures that are outdated?
  • Are there meetings scheduled that are wasting time of the employees, causing frustration and delays in productivity?
  • Are employees feeling overworked and underappreciated?
  • Are employees working in isolation or without autonomy?

Several improvements can be then made by:
1. Only hold meetings when critical, keeping the meetings brief,
and sticking to a specific, previously communicated agenda to demonstrate respect to employees.

2. Face-time with employees is also important. It is vital to encourage socialization in the organization. Be creative. Companies that fail to promote socialization find the culture becomes distrustful and promotes negative employee behavior.

3. When appropriate, accommodate telecommuting, flexible work schedules, and job-sharing. Employees today are attempting to manage complex lives and work-life balance is a top priority. Providing opportunities to have flexibility in both scheduling and location of where the work is accomplished may be a key to increasing the joy experienced by employees.

4. Encouraging health and wellness has also been found to be an important component of positive job satisfaction and joy. When employees believe their employer cares about them and accommodates and/or implements wellness initiatives, they generally experience increased health. Healthier employees are happier, more productive, and tend to remain in the organization longer.

5. Implement practices that shift the culture of the company. Increasing communication is a critical component to improving employee
job satisfaction and joy. When employees feel like they matter, are being heard, and the leadership reflects this in their behavior, there is a positive impact on productivity.

6. Provide opportunities for employees to work with a reasonable level of autonomy. Demonstrating trust also reveals to employees that the organization believes in them. When an employee experiences this phenomenon, they are more likely to work hard, stay motivated and experience joy.

7. Respond to employees’ attempts at individual and organizational improvements. Disregarding an individual’s passion and interest to improve either his or her specific work role or a system in place communicates (whether intentional or not) a lack of care and concern for the employee. Instead, have procedures and practices in place to reward ideas and any contributions individual or team makes to improve the organizational performance and culture.

Ultimately, leadership must be focused on the job satisfaction and joy of their employees. When recruiting, select and train key leaders with the ability and desire to focus on employees. If the company is focused on employee engagement and satisfaction, it is more likely to experience a positive impact on productivity. Great business leaders know that when the focus is on the well-being of its employees, the result is improved performance both individually and organizationally. And that’s something that brings joy to everyone involved.

By Colleen McLaughlin