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We all know that happy workplaces are more inviting for employees. But they also make excellent business sense. Charlotte McIsaac, head of the People & Culture team at Strategy Collective, shares strategies for nurturing happiness amongst your team.
“It’s important to acknowledge that, yes, pay is important and it’s important to get the pay right and to pay fairly,” says Charlotte. “Once that’s in place then you don’t have to worry about the pay; you can start focusing on the work itself.”
We’ve all done work for no pay and been happy about it, whether that be volunteering for a charity or sports club or helping out a friend or neighbour in the garden or moving house. In these situations, there’s something intrinsic in the work or some non-monetary reward that keeps us engaged. However, unfortunately, you can’t buy or rent houses with non-monetary rewards. The currency our world runs on is money, so it needs to form the foundation of any happy employer-employee relationship.
But like any good building, we shouldn’t stop at the foundations. There’s more work to be done to make sure our people are happy.
“One way you can increase happiness beyond a pay cheque is by increasing the autonomy of your team,” explains Charlotte. “People like to think creatively and to have the freedom to think for themselves. So we need to create cultures where this is accepted.”
This obviously works for a high-level manager who has autonomy expressly written in to their job description, but what about entry level employees? Take, for example, a kitchen hand in a cafe or restaurant?
“It starts with the culture of the organisation being one that is accepting of people having a voice,” says Charlotte. “They need to have the opportunity to come up with ideas and solutions and be given the space to think outside the box.
“That needs to be led by management. And having the right forums to discuss those things is a start. For example, the kitchen hand might have the ability to make suggestions around the playlist for the music and feel like that will be heard and that their contribution could lead to change.”
Other examples for that kitchen hand might be for them to refine the systems and procedures that the kitchen operates within or to organise team social occasions or assist in running the social media for the cafe. Understanding their unique strengths and passions is important here, as is the providing of the opportunities to match.
“It’s really empowering for people to feel like they can contribute to the business because they have an idea rather than feeling like they don’t have a voice,” reinforces Charlotte.
Charlotte explains that when an employee is contributing creatively to the organisation they inevitably gain a sense of ownership of and belonging in the business. Suddenly, they’re invested in the success and upwards trajectory of your organisation.
“A happy team that has some level of autonomy is an engaged team,” says Charlotte. “People who are engaged actually want to be there because they understand the journey that you’re on and they want to contribute to that.”
Think back to that cafe example we introduced above, imagine if its team members called their workplace their second home because of the happiness they derive from it. They are the sort of people you want to work alongside and go through thick and thin with. Ultimately, as a manger, you’ll want to allocate more and more autonomy and responsibility to the people who call your business home.
Your employees might not all be shareholders in the business from a legal point of view, but being emotionally invested can be just as powerful a driver for nurturing star players in your team. So treat your employees as emotional shareholders in your business and make sure they’re receiving a steady return on their investment, in the form of a happiness that exceeds their expectations.
Watch Charlotte McIsaac explain how to nurture happiness in the video below.
Image credit: Aron