By Adam Mendler, CEO of The Veloz Group and founder of Beverly Hills Chairs, Custom Tobacco and Veloz Solutions.
Why do people work? Perhaps the most obvious answer is to satisfy the fundamental need to make money to survive. While the definition and relative importance of financial stability may differ from person to person, everyone needs to pay their bills. You may not love or like your job, but if you are not independently wealthy, you will have to tolerate it. You may be in a dead-end job or employed by a company whose people, products and mission you could care less about. Your focus may be on getting through the day rather than enjoying it.
While not every job is going to be incredibly fun, unfortunately too many people are subjected to a joyless experience in the workplace. As both an employee and an employer, I have been deeply interested in corporate culture and workplace happiness. I have worked for and with organizations that serve as models of what to do and what not to do. The desire to create a uniquely positive company culture -- one that would not only be enjoyable to me but would enhance the lives of others -- was one of the primary drivers behind leaving the corporate world to start my company.
Everyone in life wants to be happy, and part of our responsibility as leaders is to serve as a positive force in the lives of others. Happy employees are also far more likely to add value to your organization in the short term and in the long term than those who are dissatisfied. When you are unhappy, much of your energy and focus is spent thinking about the elements behind your unhappiness, rather than on your work. And unhappy employees are far more likely to quit their jobs, leaving employers with the headaches that come with turnover.
On the contrary, those who are happy often spread infectious positive energy throughout the workplace, enhancing the atmosphere and uplifting others. Your happiest employees will also likely serve as your brand ambassadors, helping you attract new talent and potentially even new customers, organically. So how can you make your employees happy? Focus on these three areas:
If your employees intrinsically enjoy their work, there is a good chance they will enjoy coming into work every day. Companies that woo talent by offering top pay -- and in turn expect employees to be happy regardless of what they are working on -- should remember that no one argued with The Beatles when they coined the phrase, “Money can't buy me love.” I've had jobs that paid me very well that I did not enjoy and I've have had unpaid internships that I loved. As an employer, it is vital to think through whether or not the person you are considering hiring will actually enjoy the work he or she would be spending their time on. Get to know candidates well before deciding whether to extend an offer and focus on fit above pedigree.
Rodney Dangerfield was not the only person who was unhappy about getting no respect. Unfortunately, too many companies treat their employees like commodities rather than people, and the absence of fundamental decency can and will demoralize even extremely positive people. In all of my experiences managing others (from the time I was coaching youth basketball teams while in high school to leading businesses today) I have always tried to follow the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. However, I recently heard someone discuss the Platinum Rule and was taken aback: We must treat others the way they want to be treated. Develop deep enough relationships with the people who work for you so you can understand how you can help them experience more happiness. Showing appreciation is a great start.
If you have a full-time job, you are likely spending the majority of your waking hours each day working. Needless to say, if you do not like the environment you are working in, you will not be happy. It is deeply important for employers to cultivate and maintain a positive workplace atmosphere, from the physical composition of the office to the composition of those who inhabit it. Go for bright lighting and a layout that encourages human interaction as opposed to isolation. With that said, your environment is the aggregation of your people, so make sure that every member of your team is a person who makes your atmosphere better, not worse.
Adam Mendler is CEO of The Veloz Group and founder of Beverly Hills Chairs, Custom Tobacco and Veloz Solutions.