International Week of Happiness at Work: How to keep staff happy

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Experts address myths and truths about the battle for talent

As today (23rd September 2019) marks the start of International Week of Happiness at Work, HRreview has decided to reach out to professionals to ask about their opinions towards this week and how to cultivate a culture of positivity in the workplace.

Eugene Farrell, mental health lead for AXA PPP healthcare, a private medical insurance provider said:

Happiness in the workplace is a very important part of overall employee wellbeing. It is a great indicator of positive mental health too as it helps to combat stress and anxiety. Not only can the effects of happiness be felt mentally but happiness also provides a boost to the immune system, which in turn can help to promote physical health and wellbeing.

Damian Stancombe, head of workplace health and wealth at Barnett Waddingham, a UK pension consultancy, said:

Reactively responding to problems like employee stress or mental ill health is merely firefighting, and fails to resolve the root of the problem. It’s important to dig deeper into the wellbeing of employees, be it through organisational data like attrition and absence records, or asking people directly what it is that causes them stress. Layering up on information allows employers to create the right framework from which to deliver a wellbeing programme.

It’s worth the relative cost. Reduced absence, increased engagement and satisfaction, greater inclusivity and fairness, and, of course, higher productivity are the results that make a happy workplace a worthwhile goal.

David Price, CEO and workplace wellbeing expert at Health Assured, the UK largest employee Assistance Programme (EAP) said:

In the past, monetary rewards were the key to keeping staff happy at work, however, in the modern workplace, a cultural shift has seen as staff favour increased flexibility and access to a healthy work-life balance over more traditional motivators.

Thankfully, this enables today’s employers to cultivate a positive company culture without needing to spend excessive amounts on staff bonus payments thereby ensuring even smaller employers, with limited financial resources, should be equally capable of keeping their staff happy at work.

Whether on a company-wide scale or an individual basis, taking the time to think about what you can do and what your staff need is key. Take time out to hear their ideas, to thank them for their contributions, and to find out what frustrates them. Don’t forget that simple things like taking your staff out for lunch, letting them finish early on a Friday, or even just offering support to a staff member who is struggling, will mean a lot to your employees.

However, Robert Ordever, managing director of O.C. Tanner Europe, a manufacturer of retail and corporate awards, thinks this week should apply to our whole working lives. Mr Ordever said:
 

It seems crazy that we need to have a week dedicated to employee happiness, when all of the research shows that the employee experience is so heavily influenced by the hundreds of micro-experiences happening every day in our working lives. A week like this may provide some peak moments and isn’t necessarily negative, but we have to be cautious that we don’t use this as tick box exercise. O.C Tanner’s 2019 recently published Global Culture Report, talks about the data gathered from over 20,000 participants and found that 92 per cent of employees describe their employee experience as an accumulation of ‘everyday’ experiences, rather than one-off initiatives.

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