About 920,000 New Zealanders are unhappy in their job, research conducted by Seek found in 2014.
That’s roughly 40 percent of the country’s workforce, and probably 40 percent too many, because no matter how great your idea or business model it’s people who bring your company to life.
There’s much to be said about the correlation between employee happiness and productivity. The majority of research suggests that the most likely way to prevent your employees from experiencing dissatisfaction in their roles and falling behind schedule is by keeping your company’s workplace culture in check.
What effective workplace culture looks like
Workplace culture can be defined as the “personality of your organisation”. It’s the values, attitudes, traditions and behaviours upheld by your company, and how they apply to and influence employees.
Google is a company that is seen to have exemplary workplace culture – creative-enhancing and productivity-inducing; it’s believed their staff perks include free massages, gym memberships and gourmet food, as well as liberal use of pool tables and bowling alleys, among other things.
Of course Google is worth about US$498 billion, so they’re able to be a little more lavish in their approach and application, but that’s not to say you can’t get creative at your own company to keep your employees stimulated and satisfied in their roles.
In fact there are many cost-effective ways to keep effective workplace culture alive and keep staff happy:
1. Employee recognition
According to the American Time Use Survey 2014 [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics], people spend more than half their lives at work, so it’s understandable they feel the need to be recognised for their time and efforts.
The rewards for recognition of employee effort are commonly offered in the form of the seasonal staff party, casual Fridays, free parking, extended lunch breaks or early sign outs, ‘thank you’ notes, vouchers, friendly office competitions and even work phones and company cars in certain roles.
Forbes’ list of 25 Low-Cost Ways to Reward Employees offers some more unique suggestions, such as, “pick an unusual or funny object and place it on their [employee’s] desk for a week”, “throw a pizza party”, and “buy a dozen donuts”.
There’s no template for how often to reward your employees, as obviously this is dependent upon each employee, but offering regular weekly or monthly office-wide perks is a good incentive to remind employees that they are valued and encourage them to keep striving in their roles.
2. No official work hours
Many employers today allow staff to choose their start and finish times providing it’s between sensible hours. Letting employees complete their nine hours within a time frame that both suits their lifestyle and allows sufficient time for contacting people during standard business hours works in the best interests of the company.
Netflix has another approach. The entertainment giant measures activity instead of hours, so employees are only required to be at work for as long as it takes to get their work done.
3. Training and development
Given the amount that technology is advancing, it’s seems unwise to overlook the necessity for in-house training and development. Keeping staff up to date with the processes around them is a good way to improve efficiency, measure performance, and encourage positive relationships within the workplace.
Skills that can be enhanced are split into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills impact work productivity directly, for example being up to date with new technology systems, while soft skills are the interpersonal skills that influence office morale.
What positive workplace culture results in:
- Attracting and retaining top talent
- Employee loyalty
- Improved engagement and performance
- Improved office morale
- Measureable business results
- The ability to manage people better.
By Lydia Truesdale