The Pursuit of Happiness (in the Workplace)

“The purpose of life is not to be happy—but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.” 
Leo Rosten, teacher, academic, writer, humorist

It has been scientifically proven that happy workers make the best workers. Recognizing the grand impact of higher productivity, many workplaces have initiated strategies focused specifically on increasing employee happiness. One need only look to the rising popularity of the relaxed, “play-centered,” perks-based environment made famous by Google.  Google spokesperson Jordan Newman once summarized his company’s workplace strategy as striving “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” It is not a coincidence that he links this cause (employees being “happy”) to this effect (employees being “productive”).

If building a 35-foot slide connecting floors in your office building or giving your employees a mandatory two-week summer vacation is not possible for your company,  what is a simple step you, as an employer, can take to create a happier workforce?

It’s easier than you might think: Make your employee truly understand how their work matters.

Some job roles will allow workers to see a visible, tangible result of their efforts at the end of a day or at the end of a project. Other positions may not produce a clear, obvious outcome. Regardless of where employees fall on the production line, they need to know that their work is furthering the company’s overall mission. If they feel that they are contributing in a unique and impactful way they will realize the importance their singular piece of the puzzle plays in the grand scheme of the organization. In turn, they will be more likely to internalize goals and want to produce results.

“Great Places to Work” are places in which employees believe they are pivotal to the overall success or failure of the company. A staggering 92% of survey respondents across the 93 institutions recognized by The Chronicle Great Colleges to Work For Program in 2016 as “Great Places to Work” either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I understand how my job contributes to this institution’s mission.”

If you want further information on what would make your employees happier (AND more productive), ask them! The ModernThink Higher Education Insight Survey allows every respondent to give their input.