Cultivating a Happy Workplace : 9 Top Tips

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Spring is in the air. As our thoughts turn to sunshine, planting projects and kitchen gardens (oh, The Good Life!) it got me thinking. Much like a well-tended garden, the modern workplace requires time and investment if you want the right things to grow there. A happy workplace culture doesn’t just happen, it needs to be cultivated:

To cultivate is to promote or improve the growth of (a plant, crop, etc) by labour and attention.

So, if you are seeking to cultivate a Happy / Creative / Fun / Autonomous Workplace Culture, don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best, get attentive and work hard!


Why Happy?

Employee happiness may not be a tangible asset or ROI that appears on your balance sheet, but its effects on a business’s bottom line are very tangible. Companies that appear within the ‘Best Companies to Work For’ rankings worldwide, are – on average – reporting capital gains of over 10% and an average employee turnover of less than half that of their industry contemporaries. Conversely Gallup’s global health study (2008) has managed to quantify the average cost of an unhappy employee. Taking significantly more sick leave, they stay at home an average of 1.25 days more a month, equivalent to 15 extra sick days per year. *

Happiness is not…

… the same thing as employee engagement. Employees can be happy in their jobs but they may not be productively engaged in their work. The opposite is also true: Someone who works hard at their job putting in 14 hours a day is engaged, but not necessarily happy. This can only lead to burnout.

Stop faking it :

We have all come across the companies who present a fun workplace culture to the outside world, but the reality is that the toilet is known as the crying room (true story) there is a bullying and erratic approach to management, and a culture of fear and negativity is not far behind. A slide in the office does not a happy workplace make. Nor does overpaying staff to compensate for poor culture: research shows that once employees are paid in line with competitive market rates, the return on further pay increases tends to diminish. When negative cultural norms are adopted by senior management through their own fears, employees will not speak up. They will just leave

Three core values that underpin a happy workplace culture are Purpose, Recognition, and Motivation. These may be hard to measure, but your first step should simply be to have a conversation. Ask your employees how they feel, and ensure they can be honest with you. When these three values are are a key focus for your business, and are reinforced from the top down, then a consistent, positive change (if change is needed) will be felt within your workplace culture.


Here are our 9 top tips to build a keen sense of purpose, recognition and motivation within your workforce :



1. Find out what your employee’s personal goals are, and help them to achieve those goals through their work. Ensuring what you are asking them to do fits into their “bigger picture” vision is essential to lending purpose to the 9 to 5.

2. Communicate regularly on a company-wide and one to one basis so that each staff member is informed and up to date in the organisation’s goals, and their individual role in helping to reach those goals.

3. Where possible, offer autonomy to your employees. Whether that is via “extra-curricular” activities such as social committees or clubs, or elements of their day to day work; having the power to decide for oneself reinforces an employee’s sense of purpose.



4. Recognise achievement: Everyone likes to be appreciated and recognized for success at work. Millennials who have grown up with social media, are used to (and expect) that instant, visual recognition. By bringing in a workplace platform such as Yammer, which allows managers and teammates to recognize success, your workforce will feel recognized and appreciated.

5. Recognise their life outside of work: By allowing your staff to work in a flexible way to suit their life, you will reap the benefits. “This work-life balance can be understood as a vehicle for pursuing an employee’s overall sense of purpose, including balancing purposeful work goals with other life goals. Businesses that are respectful of this need can improve employee retention.” **

6. Recognise the person: Personal recognition like birthdays and work anniversaries may be a small touch but speaks volumes about their value to you as an employer.



7. Invest in employee personality profiles: By understanding what makes your employees tick and the best ways to motivate them, you will get the maximum return on your investment. One-size-fits-all-management style only goes so far.

8. Be transparent. Nothing turns an employee off more than the belief that secrets are being kept. By having a clear, consistent and approachable agenda with your workforce you will only motivate them to contribute more – even in the tough times.

9. Let them know you trust them. In the words of Ayelet Noff ; “A vote of confidence can go a long way; they will fill those shoes sooner than you think.” ***


To gain a further understanding on how Ben Johnson Recruitment can support your recruitment needs or help you understand your employees using profiling, please contact us.

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*, ** Huffington Post, *** TCM Group