This page was updated in March 2020
It’s Friday night, and you’re sitting in the movie theater. You watch as the protagonist trudges into work, which happens to be the stereotypical, gray-scale, cubicle jungle—full of employees, but empty of sound (except the buzz of the fluorescent lights). All employees are glued to flickering computer screens and avoiding eye contact with the huge stacks of paperwork their boss dropped off earlier. There’s stale coffee nobody will drink in the break room, and the protagonist’s only delight in life is the forty-second walk to the water fountain he takes at 10:12 a.m. and 2:54 p.m.
I hope this sounds nothing like your place of employment, but there’s a reason this stereotype of the workplace exists. Sometimes, Hollywood’s grouchy bosses, frequent late nights in the office, and printers that continually run out of ink aren’t exaggerated fairytales. Though it’s true no employee will always enjoy 100% of their job (all jobs have unique frustrations and obstacles), work doesn’t have to be a dreary place. In fact, happy employees offer a host of benefits to an organization.
One of the biggest challenges an organization can face is being able to retain employees, especially talented ones. Jacob Shriar, Director of Customer Happiness at Officevibe, suggests that happy employees are more likely to stick around and help your business grow. “If you want to grow your business, you need to have an amazing environment that encourages collaboration, encourages employees to be autonomous, and encourages everyone to try new things,” Shriar says, “The only way to do this is with a great atmosphere, where employees are happy about coming into work, and want to perform their best. If employees are demotivated, feel stress, or are insecure about their job security, the results will start to show.”
Employees who get excited about going into work and interacting with coworkers will want to invest in the organization, giving the organization dependable talent and a good name. It’s a lot harder to leave behind a company that gives employees freedom, support, a voice, and value rather than an organization full of people who fail to feel validated, important, and heard.
Employee happiness goes beyond just long-term loyalty, however. Employees who find themselves in cheerful environments thrive. When you enjoy going to work, the ideas of regularly coming in late, leaving early, or being unproductive aren’t as tempting—you’re jeopardizing the role you’ve come to love. Being asked to leave an upbeat and welcoming environment to face a future elsewhere that could be much worse sounds like torture.
Happy employees are also proud to identify with their organization, and see themselves as an integral member supporting the success of the whole system. Happy employees will invest both in the people and the product of an organization -- they’ll be more likely to post on social media work party pictures, stay late to ensure a problem is fixed, have inside jokes with coworkers, meet deadlines consistently, and even willingly run for an extended period of time for no compensation (Such as the dedicated Dominionites who participated in the Coast Guard run). Being productive and successful means your environment has the ability to stay the way it is, and you can have more chances to proclaim to the world how awesome the business you work for can be.
Nobody likes to be around an Eeyore, but it’s rather difficult to maintain a cheerful and upbeat disposition if everyone around you is upset. No matter how happy a new hire is, if the environment is depressing, it becomes harder and harder for them to continue coming into work energized and motivated to perform well.
And If grumpy employees are rubbing off on another, chances are, they will treat customers and clients the same way. Whenever a customer interacts with an organization, they expect to be treated cordially and seriously, even if they are the 32nd complaint that particular employee has dealt with that day. According to a 2013 study done by Arizona State University, if a troubled customer was unhappy with how they were treated, they complained on average to 28 people. The study also found that the posting of customer complaints on social media was nearly double what it was in 2011.
Regardless of the legitimacy of a customer’s complaint, your organization could be potentially losing 28 new customers due to one negative interaction. Though there are ways to respectfully deal with customers whose complaints aren’t viable, having an employee who is already unhappy and unattached to the organization be the one who receives an outrageous complaint call isn’t going to go well.
As mentioned before, employees who are happy with their organization will be proud to identify with the brand. They see themselves as a physical representation of what the company stands for, and will strive to uphold that standard, even in difficult situations, which may lead to returning customers. According to Montate, 73% of customers said they’d consider supporting a brand again if they had a “superior” experience. Happy employees create a welcoming environment that customers can’t help but want to be a part of.
Obviously, employee happiness matters. But what steps can be taken to promote happy employees? Though there are countless ways to increase happiness, all options should be catered to your specific organization. Check back next week for an installment outlining suggestions of how to boost worker happiness.