Keep employees happy

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2016 was, by all accounts, a difficult year and while the holiday season may have achieved some repair to the morale of staff around the country, it is essential that team and HR managers utilise the means at their disposal to hit the ground running in the new year.

Encouraging staff – to enjoy their work and maintain motivation in order to deliver an undeniably good service to their customers – is crucial if 2017 is to be a better year.

“Management will normally always witness two types of people when the new working year begins: those that are excited to be back at work, feeling refreshed and ready to tackle their tasks; and those that feel they haven’t rested enough, and resent being back in the office,” advises Liane McGowan, happiness guru and founder of Happy Monday CC.

The key is for management to harness the motivation of those that already possess it, and foster it for those that need a helping hand. “There are various techniques that can be used to motivate staff through the post-holiday slump,” adds McGowan. “Encouraging laughter, fun and a general increase in office happiness, when employees return to work, is key. Keeping morale high by increasing the awareness of happiness within the workplace and adding exciting elements into the brand-new year will set the tone needed!”

Research indicates that employees will respond well to formal interventions which can be targeted on creating an eager and motivated workforce for the year ahead. “Starting the year on a high note will keep employees encouraged and happy during the emotional slump many feel after returning to work from their long (or not long enough) holiday. This slump is also most likely caused by financial stressors, when we tend to overspend during the festive season, but need to make ends meet throug January.”

Psychologists Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King and Ed Diener conducted over 200 studies on more than 275 000 people worldwide. Their findings show that happiness leads to success in almost every domain in life; including work performance and work relationships. Cynthia D Fischer wrote an article ‘Happiness at Work’ and in her abstract stated that “At all levels, there is evidence that happiness has important consequences for both individuals and organisations. Past research has tended to underestimate the importance of happiness at work.”

McGowan offers three new year’s (and all year) resolutions that companies should implement for 2017, focusing on employee emotional development and happiness. To strive for a change in your workforce, it is key that a change in the processes being implemented occurs. So, resolution one first and foremost is to embrace such change. “We cannot expect changes to occur using old, outdated campaigns. To achieve new results, you need to embrace and implement new things”.

Strive to develop a happy environment; one which your employees will enjoy working in. “When the environment in which we exist add to our emotional wellbeing in a positive way, we want to stay and thrive in such environments.” Lastly, seek the correct advice on the development and implementation of such campaigns and changes that may be needed within your work space, to achieve the necessary results.

There is an absolute global shift towards the happiness factor within the corporate space and it is time for South Africa to catch up.