You can’t buy happiness

Employee engagement can be a prickly issue for employers. Happy staff can increase productivity and they are more likely to have ‘buy in’ for your business, often resulting in happier and more engaged customers.

So how do you get happy staff? Ask your staff this question and invariably the results are:

  • Pay me more money
  • Give me more holidays
  • I’d like more ‘perks’

Essentially put the question to your employees and they will confidently inform you their happiness at work is a commodity for sale.

Undoubtedly a pay rise letter or the introduction of perk will produce an endorphin effect and you may be more likely to see cheerful staff skipping down your hallways, however will it last?

The blunt answer is generally a resounding no. The effect of the increase/the perk wears off, and employees become accustomed to the new status quo, before you know it is annual review time again and the cycle commences again.

What is an employer to do? Invest in happiness in monetary terms and you may see a return on this investment in the short run. However having to constantly feed such an investment can ultimately have a negative impact on your business. At some point you will have to say ‘no’ and moral plummets.

You don’t need to be a sparkly city company, able to provide a subsidised restaurant, gym, or sleeping quarters for your staff. Nor do you need to spend the GDP of a small country on Christmas parties, perks or ‘teambuilding’ away weekend. They are just that, perks. They don’t keep employees engaged in the long term, or prevent them from looking for greener grass.

Employee engagement runs deeper and should look at employee integration, working environment, team structures, trust, fairness, progression and the feeling of being valued. A well engaged employee who feels that their contribution has value to the business, and that value is recognised is likely to be significantly happier in the workplace and bought into your product. Your goals (employer and employee) start to become common goals, rather than a focus on the bottom line of the payslip, resulting in a more productive work environment.

Employee engagement can increase productivity, profitability, reduce absenteeism and staff turnover. Can your business afford to not get it right?

Elissa Thursfield: HR Anchor Ltd