Employee Engagement

During the course of our lives, we spend roughly 90,000 hours working, so it makes sense that we’d want to enjoy that part of our lives. In fact, 53 percent of workers say that having a position with greater work/life balance and increased personal well-being is “very important.” And they increasingly expect employers to play a role in that.

Study revealed that 80 percent of workers believe employers have a responsibility to keep employees both mentally and physically well. Given the connection between happiness, good health and productivity, bosses would do well to listen.

“Happy employees have better health, are happier in life and enjoy greater career success and lifetime incomes.”It’s good for the company, too. Economists found that happier people are 12 to 20 percent more productive and use their time more effectively.

“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result,” says professor of economics and behavioral science. “For Google, [productivity] rose 37 percent, making workers happy really pays off.”

Rules of Engagement

But what, exactly, makes for a happy workplace? It’s more than Google’s free food and arcade games that make employees want to work harder and do better; it’s most likely the autonomy, the ability to learn on the job and the variety of challenges that contribute to happiness and greater productivity. These elements are major contributing factors to work satisfaction.

Autonomy is a key human motivator, and that includes autonomy at work. Few if any, enjoys being micromanaged, so why do it to others?

Employees who fare best are those who are given clear goals or expectations, limited feedback (and only when necessary) and the freedom to move forward on their own. That kind of approach leads to an engaged workforce—and engaged workers are happy ones.

Making a Play for Workplace Happiness

Engaging workers may not be an easy task. While it’s not a new problem for workers or for employers, it is becoming more important. One of the new drivers of employee engagement is gamification, which applies game mechanics to nongame settings—such as the workplace. This allows employers to develop rewards, encourage employees and improve performance in a more accessible, enjoyable way.

Surprisingly enough, it is noted that what makes people happy and engaged in video games are the same elements that engages them at work.

“What makes games so compelling, according to science, is that you find core human intrinsic motivators in them; these are psychological needs that we all have.” “Specifically, those needs are autonomy, relatedness and mastery, and the best video games satisfy our needs for that.”

While workplaces may have been reluctant to introduce initiatives for employee happiness in the past, today that mindset is changing.

Yes, we’re at work to get things done, but fun is not the opposite of productivity. Science shows us it can be a great complement to productivity. If you take 5 percent of your time to boost happiness at work, and you get a 20 percent productivity boost out of that investment, then I will be fantastic return on investment.

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