What do chocolate, puppies, and a brisk walk have in common? These things can all make us happier throughout the day, and they can all be incorporated into your company culture to inspire a happier workforce.
Company culture is suddenly a business buzzword, but it shouldn't be hard to see why. Recently, Gallup found 70 percent of American workers were disengaged on the job, costing the economy an estimated $550 billion in lost productivity. The average worker is only staying in a job for about 4.4 years before hopping to a better opportunity. Great company culture can keep people productive and help you retain your best employees.
So what do most top-notch company cultures have in common? Let's call it the happiness factor.
Research has found happy employees work harder and are more productive than their less cheerful counterparts. In fact, recent research from the University of Warwick discovered happiness increases productivity by up to 12 percent.
This probably explains why the top employers usually enjoy more-robust bottom lines. In fact, a mere 1 percent rise in employee engagement at a single Best Buy store equalled $100,000 more in the store's annual operating budget.
Happy workers are also more likely to stick around. Companies on Fortune's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For had increased retention, even in the high turnover field of tech. Among the best tech companies, the turnover rate was 5.9 percent, while the turnover rate for the industry at large was more than double at 14.4 percent.
It's no coincidence that Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" has become this spring's anthem. The song is so remarkable to us that we at Pluto.TV dedicated a whole channel to 24/7 "Happy."
If you're also looking for some ways to bring out the smiles in your office, here are five happiness hacks to get you started:
1. Chocolate improves everything.
Is there anything chocolate can't do? If there is, we haven't encountered it yet. Researchers from the University of Warwick gave study participants a test. But before the test, they got a little something sweet. Participants who had chocolate beforehand actually did 10 to 12 percent better than their candy-free counterparts.
What does this mean for your company culture? Should you go out and buy a chocolate fountain? Maybe not, but it can't hurt to have the sweet treat around the office. Workers like to snack during the day, and your team might need a sugary pick-me-up, especially as the afternoon grows longer. Providing a little chocolate in the break room for those with a sweet tooth is a quick and easy way to improve mood and, it turns out, productivity.
2. Get moving.
It's time to think about your company's employee wellness program. Healthy employees are happier, more likely to show up, and more likely to add positive value to your company. Companies from L.L. Bean to Johnson & Johnson have invested in wellness programs because they know employees who feel their best also put their best foot forward at work, not just on their morning jog.
Plus, the endorphins released during exercise can lead to an improved mood. Your wellness program could be as complicated as a large-scale, incentivized initiative or as simple as getting the team to take a yoga class or a long walk during lunch. Whatever you decide, make sure wellness and movement become important parts of your company cultures.
3. Bring Fido to work.
Could a pooch be your company's best friend? Research has found employees are more productive, happier, and less stressed when they can bring their four-legged friends into the office. A 2010 study by Central Michigan University discovered just the presence of a dog in the office led to employees collaborating more effectively.
A pet-friendly office won't be right for every organization, but you might want to consider the policy. After all, research from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business found having animals in the workplace buffers stress and makes the job more satisfying. Pet lovers will be happier having Mr. Whiskers or Spot in the office, and taking pets for walks throughout the day can help keep your best people moving, combat stress, and return to their work refreshed.
4. Provide feedback.
Your team craves feedback, yet much of corporate communication seems perilously broken. In a recent survey by Fierce, Inc., less than one-third of employees said their company would be willing to change practices based on employee feedback. When employees don't feel heard, they don't feel respected or happy in the workplace. When this happens, they begin to dream of greener pastures.
Improve your existing employee feedback program or implement one that actually listens to the ideas of your best people. Set up a quarterly or monthly meeting where the whole team can talk through smart suggestions, and be sure to recognize when the company has implemented an employee-suggested concept. This way, your team can see their contributions and feedback really do matter.
5. Give back.
Most employees want to work for a company they can be proud of, and this means giving back and doing good in the world. This is especially important for Millennial workers: Research by the Intelligence Group discovered 64 percent of Millennials say making the world a better place is a professional priority.
Your company needs to be more socially responsible and more in touch with your local community. You know the good feeling you get after you've done something great for another person? This is the kind of happiness with which you want to empower your team.
Get out in the local community and see how you can help, start a volunteer drive, or even offer volunteer days off. You don't have to be a charity in order to make a difference, and your do-gooder employees will likely feel good as well.
Happy employees are more productive workers, so it's time to make happiness a priority for your company culture. Using some of these outside-of-the-box methods, you can give your team a smile and give your company a productivity boost.
What do you think? How do you improve employee happiness? Share in the comments!