Matt Weston: How to reach happiness in the workplace

Employee happiness has become a key metric in evaluating a company’s workplace culture. With new initiatives introduced every day, from campaigns to raise awareness about mental health, to increased flexibility at work and the introduction of Chief Happiness Officers, employee wellbeing appears to be a top priority for the C-suite. However, the question of whether the responsibility for workplace happiness rests on the employer or the employee remains largely unanswered.

With figures that show nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of UK employees experience stress in their jobs, there is little doubt that a happy workforce should come close to the top of a company’s priority list: after all, as countless studies have shown, companies which value their employee’s wellbeing tend to retain top employees for longer periods of time and regularly outperform their competitors.

As new talent remains difficult to secure, the focus for businesses is on retaining top performers. How can companies strike the perfect balance between commercial goals and a happy, engaged workforce to help them win the war for talent whilst remaining competitive?

In order to keep employees satisfied in the long-term, a company must aim to shape its culture around its people. Those in leadership roles must take time to listen to what their employees are saying: no two employees will have the same needs, goals, preferences or personalities. However, working towards an understanding of the cohesive values which drive your employees is vital to improving their experience and perception of the overall company culture.

Undeniably, if a company’s goal is to maximise productivity while boosting employee engagement, well-being initiatives are a must. The healthier your employees are, both mentally and physically, the healthier your business is. A little help goes a long way when it comes to a productive workforce. Subsidised gym memberships, flexible working arrangements and mindfulness workshops are just some of the ways in which companies can become more than places where employees punch in and out.

While having employee’s interests at the forefront of a company’s considerations is important, so is establishing the metrics of your own success. From Glassdoor reviews to official feedback forms, one of the most often quoted words is ‘culture’. Encouraging employees to adhere to, and embody, a shared set of values will ultimately lead to better co-operation among colleagues, and to a sense of a shared purpose, which is key to a strong employer value proposition. Understanding the significant role that strong values play in your culture — and being willing to be flexible in your approach to reflect them — is a great start to achieving employee happiness.

Company benefits and incentives, as well as a sense of a shared purpose are all significant to achieving a productive and cohesive workplace. However, the responsibility for workplace happiness must also fall on the employees themselves: making the most of available opportunities can help to achieve that much desired work-life balance. A crucial step in this direction is improving the visibility around wellbeing programmes and initiatives. Similarly, leaving the door open for employees to bring their own ideas to the table about what happiness in the workplace looks like for them could yield unexpected results. More often than not, employers need guidance when it comes to introducing the right initiatives and encouraging employees to contribute their ideas is one way of achieving this.

What next?
At the end of the day, workplace happiness does not rest independently on a single set of factors. Indeed, the recipe for success will differ from company to company, and from employee to employee. Ensuring that employees are given ways in which to engage with wellbeing initiatives, understand the culture of the company, as well as leaving room for constant and regular improvement are only some of the ways in which workplace happiness can be achieved.

Employees are an organisation’s greatest asset. It’s becoming increasingly clear that employee satisfaction is no longer just an option, but rather an imperative if companies are to successfully retain top staff and win the war for talent. Those companies that promote and protect a culture dedicated to the overall wellbeing and happiness of employees are likely to see higher levels of staff engagement and productivity, helping them become more successful and competitive in the long-term.





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Matt Weston is the UK Managing Director of specialist recruiter Robert Half.

Having worked for Robert Half for over 21 years, Matt began his career as a recruitment consultant quickly excelling into leadership roles within the business including Regional Director for professional staffing in the UK South region before taking on the UK Managing Director role in 2018.