Last month the Government released the findings of their latest happiness index where Harlow in Essex took the prize for being the unhappiest town in the UK and Fermanagh in Northern Ireland the happiest. You may wonder why, at a time of burgeoning national debt, the Government decided to fund research into this area. The answer – David Cameron knew what many academics already know; a happy individual makes for a productive individual. And productive individuals can positively impact the UK economy.
The same goes for employees within an organisation. Experience shows, particularly in the service industry, that happy employees = happy customers = happy shareholders. Which is why many successful organisations like Bourne Leisure, Pets at Home and TGI Fridays focus on getting the people stuff right and rank as Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for.
We recognise though that not everybody has the means to invest in their people like these businesses; so here we outline our three low cost ways to get the people stuff right in your teams and reap the rewards:
1) Understand the culture and values
Our research identified that a clearly defined culture, memorable values and continuous communication on the subject is business critical. Therefore it’s essential that every single employee can easily understand what their employer is about, what they stand for and where the company is going. If you or your fellow colleagues don't know, place this top of your to-do list to find out. Ask your manager, speak to the HR department or go direct to your CEO. Once you know your values, make them part of your everyday language – run shift briefs around them, base decisions upon them or do like Lexington Catering and create a values champion in your team to make sure you’re living and breathing these always.
And if you’re a leader of a business without a set culture and values it’s vital that you collaborate with your people (an external facilitator may be handy) and create a simple yet memorable mission, vision and set of values of which they are proud and can identify with.
2) Create leaders at all levels
Who is your leader? It is the CEO? The MD? Or your immediate line manager? For many employees it’s the latter, which is why, if you’re a manager, you must hold the essential leadership behaviours which will inspire, motivate and engage your team. Developing these skills doesn’t have to come at a high cost, so drive your own progress and look into things like mentoring, job swaps and self-study to help advance your skills. If you’re not a manager why not do the same?. Things like knowing how to communicate effectively, having confidence and positivity, combined with empathy can serve you well in your day to day role and help your performance.
3) Talk about performance regularly
Every year we ask 42,000 employees what motivates them and makes them happy and each time we see the same five results appear at the top of the list – inspirational leadership, defined career path, learning and development, shared culture and values and clear communication. Surprisingly pay and benefits normally features eighth or ninth.
To make sure these five are achieved, employees and managers alike must talk about performance and aspirations regularly. In days gone by a ‘once a year appraisal’ was adequate; however individuals now want more feedback, more development and they want it now. As a result paper based appraisals are almost a thing of the past, with many employers offering their people an online tool, such as our own Talent Toolbox™ system, which puts the employees career back in their hands – allowing them to drive the performance discussion.
And if your business still runs the set, once a year performance review schedule, take control and request a number of ‘coffee chats’ with your manager throughout the year. These informal conversations can be used to gain feedback, demonstrate a job well done or talk over a challenging goal; helping you get the most from your time within the business.
For a leader, moving to a technology solution for performance discussion enables access to a whole host of information at the click of a button; such as learning and development gaps, succession planning and identifying those who may be at risk of leaving the business – allowing you to intervene before it happens.
For more information on any of the above, please contact Emily Perry: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0207 836 6999
This article originally appeard in Villeroy & Boch Newsletter