A 2014 study by the University of Warwick economics department found that happy workers were 12 percent more productive than employees who disliked their jobs. The study, published in the Journal of Labor Economics, is reportedly the first of its kind to find direct causal evidence linking happiness and higher productivity at work.
It behooves all business owners to invest in employees satisfaction to maximize profits. But the commitment to making workers happy doesn’t necessarily have to cost money. Several companies have written the blueprints for worker satisfaction, high productivity and profits over the years.
The world’s most powerful Internet company reaches the pinnacle not because of its products and services, but because of the people behind them. The Googleplex in Mountain View, California looks more like a small municipal entity than a corporate headquarters. The 26-acre site features tennis courts, valet parking for employees and free bikes for them to ride around campus. The Android statues in front of one campus building makes the workplace feel more like an amusement park. There are also two organic vegetable gardens that the company grows produce to use in its on-site restaurants.
But the campus itself is just the beginning. Employees enjoy three free meals per day, free haircuts, on-site doctors for appointments, free dry cleaning and free memberships to their on-site gym. You can also bring your pet to work and unwind at the end of the week with free beer and wine in the cafeterias. Believe it or not, the aforementioned is not even a complete list of benefits Google employees enjoy. It’s no wonder the company receives 2.5 million applications for employment every year.
Granted most companies don’t have the financial resources of Google. But the moral of the story is that the less employees have to worry about beyond their jobs, the more productive they will be. LifeLock, the identity theft solutions company, offers free public transportation, free ID theft protection and 24 hours of paid volunteer time to do community service. The latter benefit is one of the most important. A 2013 study by Exeter University researchers found that volunteering lowered depression and mortally rates and increased workers’ overall satisfaction with life in general.
Some (but likely few) American workers love their jobs so much that management has to twist their arms to take time off. Simply put, time off is good for both employees and the company.
A 2014 survey by the Oxford University economics department found that employees who took all of their allotted paid time off reported, among other things, improved family lives, social lives, higher productivity at work and better physical and mental health. Netflix takes this aspect of job satisfaction so seriously that it has a defacto unlimited vacation policy. Technically there is no set limit of paid time off. But employees must adhere to the company’s “freedom and responsibility culture.” As long as you get your work done, and do it well, nobody will ever question your vacation habits.
Moz, a software as a service (SaaS) firm, has its own unique vacation policy that works well for its situation. The company gives workers 21 days of paid time off per year and wants them to take it all. Moz offers a $3,000 vacation reimbursement benefit for employees who exhaust all their PTO.
Harvard Business School conducted a nine-month study on call center workers at a Chinese company called Ctrip. A select group of employees was allowed to work-from-home four days per week. Researchers found that employees who telecommuted experienced 13 percent increases in production (calls completed and time logged to take calls), reported substantially higher job satisfaction than office workers and quit 50 percent less.
Cloud-based storage and project management applications have made it easier than ever for managers to monitor employees working from home. Consider offering one-day of telecommuting per week if employees meet given goals. Once you see for yourself the increased productivity and happiness, the company can figure out how to expand the program.
Happy employees are more productive and loyal to the company. Invest in your workers and they’ll reward you accordingly.
Guest blog courtesy Social Monsters. org
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