Most of us have heard the saying “Happy wife, happy life.” Now let’s try “Happy team, living the dream.” OK, we’ll work on the phrasing, but just remember that by focusing on the well-being of your employees, you will see an improvement in happiness and productivity between the hours of 9-to-5.
Let’s look at the numbers: Happier employees outperform others by up to 20 percent, and happiness can also increase sales by 37 percent. By contrast, disengaged workers have a 37 percent greater rate of absenteeism, cause 49 percent more accidents, and are 60 percent more likely to make a mistake. While we all slip up from time to time at work, prolonged disengagement can lead to 18 percent lower productivity and 16 percent lower profitability.
To aid in your employees’ happiness, you need to focus on their overall well-being, and there are plenty of companies using different strategies to accomplish this. It should come as no surprise that Google is at the top of the list of best places to work, given its nap pods, on-site haircuts, and gourmet meals. An on-call barber or chef may be out of your company’s budget, but there are more pragmatic approaches to promoting the well-being of your team.
Look at how all types of companies care for their employees, then adopt what you suspect will work for your crew. Here are three steps you can take to help raise the vim and vigor of your workplace:
1. Incentivize sustainable living inside and outside of the office
Businesses that adopt “green” practices, according to a UCLA-led study, have employees who are 16 percent more productive. You can make your office environment more green by enhancing natural light where possible, placing plants around the office, and improving ventilation. In fact, a recent U.S. Green Building Council survey found that employees who work in LEED-certified green buildings are happier, healthier, and more productive.
You’ll realize these benefits not only by improving your office’s sustainable practices, but also by encouraging your employees to promote sustainability outside of work. After all, the USBGC survey also showed that employees prefer to work at values-oriented companies that seek to make the world a better place. Consider implementing a program like the “Sustainability Passport” program at Earth Friendly Products, which makes ECOS green cleaning products. The company offers financial incentives for employees who drive eco-friendly cars, move closer to work, or install solar panels on their home. When you incentivize sustainable living outside of the office, your employees will be happier knowing they’re making a difference, and the planet will be happier, too.
2. Energize your workplace culture and policies
Companies are making changes to their office space and practices to create a more connective, engaging space for their employees. Whether it’s approving a casual dress code, throwing out the outdated office cubicle, or implementing a pet-friendly policy, companies are using a slew of strategies to create a place where people want to come to work. Adding to the energy is a new fixture that is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace: an adjustable desk that allows you to sit or stand.
There are numerous perks that come from changes that encourage employee movement. “We’ve seen firsthand how shifting away from the sedentary office completely changes the ‘office vibe,’” founder and CEO of active workspace furniture company Varidesk, Jason McCann, says. “Quite simply, there’s an energy in the air now that helps people collaborate more, be more productive, and feel better about their workspace.” Consider ways you can mix up the furniture or layout in your office with your employees’ well-being in mind. Even things like moving the water cooler a little farther away from everyone’s desks can persuade employees to get up and move a little more throughout the day.
3. Address stress
More than half of the U.S. workforce says that work is a significant source of stress, with Millennials struggling more with depression and anxiety than any other generation. And this stress is costing businesses money through lost productivity. Research published in 2016 showed that stress is responsible for 12 percent of the absenteeism businesses experience each year, and the monetary costs of that are significant. The same study notes that according to the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive, 6.5 million sick days are taken each year as a result of stress. If you focus on your team’s well-being and seek to minimize stress, you can minimize the lost productivity that comes with it.
The study’s authors recommend decreasing stress in the workplace by improving work culture, including flexible scheduling that allows employees to work where and when they work best. Some people work better remotely or at different hours of the day, so simply set deadlines and let them schedule the rest. In addition, scientists are now also discouraging multitasking, as it has been shown to be a surefire way to drain a person’s energy. You can discourage this, too, by recommending that your team members leave their phones behind during meetings, put “do not disturb” signs on doors when they need to focus on a task, and take 15-minute breaks to recharge.
These three steps will help you implement processes and philosophies that keep your team’s well-being in mind. Making the effort isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s good for business, too.