Genuinely happy employees bring a multitude of benefits to an organisation.

Not only because they tend to be excited to go to work, innovate consistently and prompt big picture thinking, but also because they’re reported to be 20% more productive than their unhappy counterparts.   

With this in mind, we’re asking: what are the unique ingredients that come together to make a truly happy employee?

Well, there are many factors bolstering employee happiness – each as important as the next. Let’s delve into them:

Meaningful work
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Research, happiness at work can be significantly predicted by meaningful work and enjoyment of daily tasks.

The search for meaning is a key human need, and our work is one of the greatest ways we can fulfil it. But what counts for meaningful work? Well for many of us, it’s a feeling that we’re contributing to something a lot bigger than us through our unique skills.

That might come in the form of crafting a bespoke product, advising on a topic we’re passionate about, or campaigning for a humanitarian or social cause close to our hearts.

However it manifests, when an employee is engaged in meaningful work, genuine satisfaction tends to follow.

Feeling valued
When we talk about an employee feeling valued, we refer to clear recognition of their unique skills and attributes, and appreciation for what they bring to the table.

And it’s this recognition that often makes people feel happier, more productive and less likely to seek other employment opportunities, according to Indeed.  

The reasons behind this are deeply rooted. When we feel appreciated for the work we’re doing, our motivation skyrockets. We feel like our contribution is needed, and that only spurs us on to do more great work. 

There are many ways to show employees how much you value them, including:

  • Recognition programs
  • Financial incentives
  • Simple gestures, like listening and asking questions
  • Acting on employee feedback

A positive environment
Human beings thrive on positivity – and the workplace is no different. Creating a positive place to work in demands qualities such as enthusiasm, trust, openness and acceptance. Many of these things are underpinned by being conscious – of how we’re showing up at work, of the policies needed to create psychological safety, and of how people-centred initiatives can elevate wellness.

On the ground level, you might start promoting a more positive working environment through things like an office yoga class, that gets all your employees chatting, opening up and spending time together in a non-pressured way. Or, it could be something more formal like regular awards and recognition.

Whatever route you choose, know that every action you take towards creating a positive working environment will help to enhance the happiness of your people, and in turn, the success of your organisation.

Supporting mental health
Intrinsically linked to creating a positive working environment, mental health is the foundation for a happy workforce. Our modern world is stressful, and sometimes the pressure to balance work with home life and the demands of, say a family, can impact a member of staff’s ability to be happy at work.

In this case, it’s key to ensure your managers are equipped to deal with this through a firm base of knowledge of mental health issues. Our Mental Health range provides a plethora of digital courses to do just this, and you can find out more here.

Once you’ve studied the basics of mental health in the workplace, you can take things further by weaving mental health into your company’s long term vision. In this case, you might ask questions such as:

  • What does a fair, equal and happy workplace look like in the long term?
  • How might the wellness of our employees contribute to the longevity of our business?
  • How can we support employees to grow and evolve over time?

Being challenged
Studies show that people are at their happiest when they take part in hard but achievable activities, and that this balance can lead employees into a state of ‘flow’ – where we build confidence in our chosen pursuit, feel a deep sense of motivation and experience feelings of mastery and wellness whilst doing it.

Identifying this kind of work can be hard, so you might want to meet with your people and really dig deep to understand the type of work that would help them achieve this state.