Employees changed in a year that was tough at work and in life. It might feel impossible to make them happy.
Sure, Zoom meetings, socially distanced outings and masked meetups helped. But doesn’t everyone need more happiness now?
Yes – and when it comes to work, front-line managers and supervisors can do a world of good: Bosses have a 70% impact on employees’ happiness and engagement, a Gallup study found.
“Employees who don’t feel valued and cared for will soon find a way to leave a job that makes them miserable,” says Deb Boelkes, author of Heartfelt Leadership: How to Capture the Top Spot and Keep on Soaring.
“On the other hand, when they know that you care deeply about their happiness and see you living those values every day, they will remain loyal and engaged.”
Boelkes suggests five strategies front-line managers can use to create more happiness at work – whether employees are on-site or remote.
Focus on individuals
Happiness clearly isn’t one-size-fits-all.
What makes each employee tick? What’s most important to each one professionally and personally?
While you can’t cater to everyone’s whims, you want to gain a clear understanding of employees’ motivations.
Regularly find out what brings them happiness by asking in one-on-ones what they love about their job and what they’d change. Then do all you can to align their work with their motivations.
Help them succeed
Most people are happiest when they do well. And most employees want to perform well.
Unfortunately, things such as lack of training, resources, encouragement and time can get in their way.
Managers want to look for and eliminate roadblocks to success. Ask employees what gets in their way of:
- getting work done
- doing higher quality work, and
- achieving professional goals.
Then work with them to move around or get rid of deterrents to success and happiness.
Create a sense of belonging
Happiness at work is often rooted in the relationships people have with those around them.
You can’t make employees become friends, but you can give them opportunities to build relationships as deeply as they want them to be.
Create time weekly for employees to socialize, perhaps before or after a standing meeting. You might plan a voluntary social event monthly such as a post-work happy hour, a pre-work walk or a catered lunch.
Eliminate negative energy
Jerks in the workplace destroy happiness. Yet, many continue to work – and bring down others – because leaders allow them to behave badly.
You can’t allow jerk behavior on your watch, Boelkes says. Make collegiality a behavioral expectation for all employees – and enforce consequences for failure.
Consider your reach
You can be happy. You can plan to spread happiness. But you might not be able to achieve it always. Although employees changed, some people will never choose to be happy.
The Dalai Lama said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
So recognize your happiness reach may be limited, but your “do no harm” reach is close to limitless.