Are You Considering Your Employees’ Happiness?

Over the last six to twelve months, I’ve experienced the toughest recruiting environment I can recall. Regardless of the industry, the type of position, or even the pay range, there seems to be less candidates for every job I’ve posted for multiple different companies. And for even longer than that, it’s gotten harder and harder to get the majority of the candidates who do apply to actually respond when I’ve contacted them. While I have what I believe are some pretty solid theories on what’s driving this, I’ll stay off that soap box since it’s not the point I’m working toward…

Considering how tough it’s become for what appears to be every single employer to find talent in this market, taking care of the great employees we do have has moved to the forefront - or at least it should have! Unfortunately, far too many organizations have had to focus so hard on filling open positions that they’ve left some of their most senior and most talented team members feeling a bit taken for granted. I constantly see social media posts from folks who have been with their companies for long periods of time asking why there are sign-on bonuses but no stay-on bonuses…

Hey, I get it! Regardless of the seat you or I are in through this process, there rarely seems to be a right answer…

With all this in play, how can we make sure we’re doing all we can to keep our best folks from leaving for the highest bidder - and trust me, the good ones are being approached routinely - and make sure they’re dialed in on the productivity our organizations need? Wouldn’t it make sense to pay close attention to how happy our employees are?

I recently found a blog post from a company marketing their employee performance measuring software titled Why Employee Happiness Should Be a Top Priority. Early in the post, the author shares four statistics that point to just how important employee happiness is:

  • Happy employees stay in their job four times longer than unhappy employees;
  • Happy employees are 12% more productive;
  • Happy employees commit twice as much time to their tasks;
  • Happy employees have 65% more energy than unhappy employees

As a quick side note, three of those four stats were cited from the same source… And while I understand the intent of each, I’m not convinced employee happiness is the actual driver of any of those - at least not happiness alone…

Let’s consider each point on it’s own… Our happy employees have stayed with us four times longer than their unhappy counterparts. Sounds great at face value, but what if they were happy because they weren’t held accountable to meeting or exceeding expectations or customer demands? That could be the primary reason why the most unproductive employees are happy and stick around! And that could very well be the reason for some of the best employees abandoning ship; why would someone continue giving it all they have when their peers don’t and aren’t held accountable?

Happy employees as 12% more productive? Interestingly enough, this is the one statistic of the four that was from a different source. If our employees are happy because they don’t have to do what’s expected of them, I just can’t imagine that they’re being 12% more productive. Truth be told, I’d suggest this is a simple matter of semantics - and we’ll circle back to that soon!

Happy employees commit twice as much time to their tasks? To me, this completely contradicts the productivity statement. Committing twice as much time would almost certainly drive up the overall cost of the task and drive down productivity - unless they’ve found some alternate universe where they have more than 48 hours in their day, then I suppose it might still be possible to spend twice the time and still increase productivity...

And happy employees have 65% more energy than unhappy employees? In complete honesty, I’ve never seen an unhappy person have much energy. At least not positive energy! Again though, if they’re happy because they’re not accountable to performing up to par, I’d certainly expect them to have more energy than their coworker who’s working their tail off (and angry with them for not doing the same).

I’m certainly not making a case for making our employees mad… But I am suggesting that simply focusing on what makes someone happy may not get us the result we’re really after! Next time, we’ll look at another metric that gets a ton of attention - and may give us a better read on the situation than happiness alone - but might still fall a bit short. After that, we’ll dig into what we all really need and we’ll look at a simple approach to get it!

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