According to Indeed’s Workplace Happiness report, one of the largest studies of its kind, 36% of UK workers are unhappy in their jobs. The 2021 report found that feeling energised and having a sense of belonging and purpose is crucial for workplace happiness.
A survey shared with the publication City A.M. this year shows that 60% of employees are planning on quitting their jobs within the next 12 months. ‘57% said feeling a sense of belonging and part of a greater purpose would make them stay longer. Although a 2020 McKinsey survey found that 82% of US companies understand the importance of purpose, only 42% reported that their company’s purpose had much effect.
In a Job Advisor article, our CEO Thom Dennis says ‘a fair wage in exchange for high productivity isn’t enough anymore. Employees want to be at the centre of the business and not just used for the benefit of the company.’ In addition to employees not feeling enough value and purpose in their work, stress and burnout has led to a lack of energy and dissatisfaction. Poor mental health was costing UK businesses around £45 billion in 2019. Today, Deloitte has found those numbers are £56 billion a year, an increase of roughly 25%.
Research published last year reveals that 79% of UK workers have experienced burnout with 42% of Brits feeling more exhausted than ever before. Part of the increase in stress is linked to the constant unexpected changes we are navigating in our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. Flexible work, for instance, has blurred the lines between home and work life.
What steps can we take to begin improving employee happiness?
1.) Adjust from financial well-being to employee-wellbeing
It is no longer enough to offer a free gym membership and a fair wage. Employees want to feel excited about what they do, and they want to feel their contribution is making a real difference. An effective way to create this shift is to ask your staff what they want and need. Leaders can find themselves so caught up communicating with partners and stakeholders, that they forget to regularly communicate and check in with staff.
A more systemic change to improve well-being involves a deep analysis and overhaul of company culture. While purpose is part of a company’s ‘why’, culture is the complete personality of an organisation. It is made up of practices, beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes. As a culture change organisation, we know that you cannot create purpose and a new set of values if there are deep-rooted issues with culture in your company.
2.) Focus on respect and inclusivity
Numerous research studies show the benefits of workplace diversity. Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets, for instance. Research from BCG found ‘a correlation between inclusiveness and happiness.’ 81% of employees who feel they work in an inclusive culture are happy in their jobs.
Many companies have increased their diversity efforts but have struggled to create an inclusive environment. This is often because of hidden bias in an organisation that can cause staff to feel they are not respected or appreciated and the efforts are based on insincere motives. Consider regularly organising a deep dive look at bias and maintain a continual focus on inclusion and diversity as a company priority. Trying half-heartedly to ‘do’ inclusion just breeds contempt and disaffection.
3.) Provide multiple learning opportunities
A lack of energy is one of the biggest reasons for workplace unhappiness. While burnout is linked to a culture of overwork, ‘boreout’ is another workplace phenomenon associated with chronic feelings of boredom. A BBC article says that workers are less likely to come forward and admit a lack of motivation or interest as these are considered ‘taboo in organisations.’
Purpose can help relieve boredom, but it needs to coincide with multiple learning opportunities to challenge employees and create new skillsets. Work with your staff to choose the areas they would like to focus on, and then look for shadowing, mentoring and project opportunities.
4.) Commit to managing wellbeing
Studies continually demonstrate the negative impact of overworking. We suffer physical and mental consequences, including an increase in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which can lead to brain fog and high blood pressure. The employee experience can significantly improve if managers pay attention to the hours and levels of work staff are contributing each week.
You can help relieve stress by creating a policy such as no emails sent after 6:00 pm and ensuring there are not too many meetings.
For more insight on burnout, our CEO, Thom Dennis interviewed executive coach and member of the Serenity in Leadership associate team, Yewande Faloyin, on how to better manage time and productivity. Click here to watch.