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A happy workplace = A productive workplace

“Achievement is not equal to happiness.”

– Marshall Goldsmith

Asit Rath is CEO & MD of Aviva India. He has earlier worked at ICICI Bank and ICICI Prudential Life.

A happy workplace = A productive workplace

Manoj Agrawal: Should CEOs augment their focus from job satisfaction to job happiness? What impact would that create?

Asit Rath: In recent times, workplaces have been subject to innumerable challenges, including the pandemic outbreak, economic uncertainties, the great resignation wave, and much more. From working at the office to working remotely and then switching to a hybrid working model, while embracing digital transformation to sustain business operations, businesses had to overcome productivity volatility, lower job satisfaction, and employee morale.

To ensure the success of their company, CEOs must constantly assess not only how satisfied but how happy their employees are with the work. CEOs who foster a culture of happiness in their workforce establish the foundation for success and profitability.

Building a company that supports each employee’s success and unites them with the company’s purpose is crucial. Some of the most crucial aspects that affect an employee’s job happiness are workload, performance reviews, flexible work policies, recognition, and opportunities for career growth.

To build and grow the competitive talent pool, CEOs must include employee engagement in their KRA. Employees who are happy and satisfied are a huge advantage to the company for a variety of reasons, including:

Higher Productivity – Naturally, happy employees would feel more invested in the success of the firm and work harder to make it happen. Due to their desire for everyone to succeed in their job, they will also volunteer their assistance to others.

Better Customer Service – Satisfied employees tend to be happy people in general, which makes them more likely to provide friendly customer service. Customers will be pleased to see them proudly representing your business.

Loyalty – When workers believe their needs are being addressed and their employer has their best interests in mind, they frequently support the mission and goals of the business. Low turnover rates are directly correlated with loyalty. Longer employee retention is a result of happier workers.

Brand Ambassadors – When people like something, they spread the word about it. For instance, if a customer receives excellent services at any business, she is likely to refer it to her friends and family. Similarly, a good employee experience creates employee ambassadors who create a positive word for the company, as a great place to work. Thus, every business must strive to create this positive ripple effect among their current and potential employees.

Greater Profitability – Greater profitability is directly related to greater productivity. The company will experience an increase in profit when more work is completed and is of higher quality. Keeping workers happy and safe can increase profits by increasing sales and reducing costs.

What kind of talent and skills would the organization need to pursue employee happiness?

Organizations must focus on building a supportive work culture is crucial for the well-being of employees. Giving raises or promotions is simply a temporary strategy for keeping workers comfortable and happy in their positions. There are countless low-cost ways to maintain your employees’ optimal well-being at work. The following are the most effective methods:

Focus on emotional well-being and mental health – Mental and emotional well-being are essential to shaping happy and healthy workplaces, where people excel in what they do and experience job satisfaction. More than ever before, leadership and people operations must prioritize happiness at work and well-being to maximize human potential and drive productivity, efficiency and innovation. This can be achieved by restructuring policies and aligning with the new way of working by putting emotional well-being first and prioritizing work life balance.

Understanding what factors to measure, how to capture them, and destigmatizing the conversations around mental health are important steps that companies need to take to design modern, accessible, and effective well-being programs, that in turn, have a direct impact on the business outcomes.

Design a highly flexible learning culture – A key factor in workplace happiness is providing employees the opportunity to grow, learn and hone their skill set. Contrary to popular belief that if companies invest in training their people, they will lose them to competitors, the reality is that those who focus on developing talent are more likely to retain employees. Workplaces that foster a culture of learning that encourages employees to upskill, lay the groundwork for long term success and build an engaged, skilled and high-performance workforce.

Provide the right resources supported by meaningful policies – Another key factor in increasing employees’ efficiency at work ties directly to the support extended by companies in building a conducive work environment. Often, companies end up chasing high-level goals and forget the crux of what it takes to get there – the holistic well-being of employees. Considering the current workplace dynamics, it becomes even more important to factor in the evolving landscape and adapts company policies accordingly. This can range from policies that encourage paid time off to prevent employee burnout, to group medical insurance. Even something as simple as supporting adequate infrastructure for a comfortable work-from-home experience can prove instrumental in boosting employee happiness and productivity. Other policies such as ergonomic workspaces for the differently abled, creche facilities, and resources made available to encourage new mothers to return to work are some examples to accommodate people’s needs.

Could happiness policies and processes adversely impact efficiency and productivity?

Indian companies have traditionally been hierarchical, with a top-down management structure. Open-door policies that allowed staff to approach bosses with problems, for example, were rare. Yet even before Covid-19, some employers were beginning to recognize that an engaged and contented workforce benefits business; recent research shows that happy workers are 13% more productive.

These young Indians are optimistic compared to their global peers, yet many are feeling the pressure of tight deadlines, job insecurity and ambitious performance targets. While they work long hours, many want more from work than just a good salary; coupled with the fact that they have higher levels of education and more employment opportunities than their parents’ generation, this means employers must work harder to keep them. Some firms are now realizing that cultivating happier employees is both important and, in their interests, and as a result have been trying to build a better understanding of employees’ needs and concerns.

It is high time the companies should stop looking at employee efficiency as a quantitative problem and start focusing on the human aspect! Creating a nourishing, learning-focused, empathy-driven workspace is crucial for overall employee happiness which in turn drives efficiency, and job satisfaction and boosts retention rate. A happy workplace equals a productive workplace!

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