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Productivity: Satisfaction and Productivity

This is part 5 of a 5 part series on Productivity.

The happier your employees, the more productive they will be! That’s not my opinion, that’s what the data tells us. Various studies show that happy employees have productivity boost of anywhere from 6% to 12%. For any business where people are a significant part of your costs, that means that making your employees happy has the same revenue impact as increasing your prices by 10%!

But what is a happy employee and what causes workplace happiness? A Harvard Business Review research project identified the following characteristics:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

While we all strive to create working environments that have those characteristics, how do you know if you are succeeding? The only way to know if your employees are happy is to ask them. But, you need to combine a few different techniques to get the full picture and ensure that employees aren’t just telling you what they want to hear.

Specifically, you should:

  • Send Anonymous Satisfaction Surveys. You should be surveying your staff on a regular basis, anonymously. If the employees know they can be honest without risking their jobs you are more likely to get honest feedback on their happiness and what they want to see improved. Be sure to take response rates into account when analyzing your results to avoid bias.
  • One-on-One Meetings. While anonymity can help employees be honest, you need direct and personal feedback to calibrate those survey results. Many employees will be honest with you in person if you give them the opening to do so. Don’t ask “Are you happy?”, but ask “What can we improve to increase your happiness?” This qualitative feedback will help frame the quantitative feedback from your surveys.
  • Monitor Employee Referrals. Employees who are truly happy will refer their friends and former co-workers for jobs at your company. Monitor the number and rate of employee referrals to double check the data from your surveys and meetings, since what someone says and what they do might not be the same.

Employee happiness can be a moving target, so never assume your employees are happy just because they used to be. Whatever you can do to improve employee happiness will translate into revenue through improved productivity, so it’s an investment worth making!

I wish there were more tips I could provide on improving productivity, but most of the improvements you can make will be very specific to your business. The areas we have covered this week should help you get started in becoming more productive, but it’s up to you to take it further. Good luck!

Quote of the Day: “I can’t get no satisfaction” – Renowned philosophers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards


The Productivity series