Having written this feature for a year now, I thought I would reflect on a topic that may not be top of mind for business value improvement: happy employees.
What impact does happiness have on a business? Isn’t that something that the employees should be responsible for? Should I take on being responsible for their happiness, you ask.
To be sure, I am not suggesting that you are responsible for the happiness of each of your employees. However, it can be shown, and has been measured scientifically, that satisfied, engaged employees produce more satisfied customers. In fact, I would argue that satisfied employees equal satisfied customers, which equals profitable growth.
Let’s take a look at how this works and I’ll end with a suggestion for what you might consider doing in your own business.
Getting Started on the Path to Happy Employees
Since we conduct customer satisfaction research we have had the opportunity to work for some really great companies− the best in their respective fields, in fact. And these firms seem, more often than not, to also be concerned about employee engagement or satisfaction.
Some of them hire us to measure it for them. When we do this, we compare the customer satisfaction of plants, divisions, regions, etc. with the employee satisfaction of those plants, divisions, regions etc., and we find that business units with high employee satisfaction generate high customer satisfaction too.
Is this simply because happy people make others happy? Probably not. Many of these business units don’t even have direct contact with customers. Their products or services touch the customers, but they may not even see the people involved in creating or delivering the product or services.
We believe that employees that are more satisfied are more engaged in their work, more present in the moment and less likely to make mistakes or create dissatisfaction in others. It may be as simple as they are more attentive to the work. Employees that are actively dissatisfied with their work simply think about other things: stresses at home, stresses coming from work, etc.
This is probably an overly simplistic view of the dynamics involved here. Companies that keep their employees satisfied do a great deal for them, such as health and wellness programs that keep employees healthy and able to work. So I don’t want to imply that a shallow or trivial effort at window dressing will do the trick.
The firms that take employee satisfaction seriously weave it into their strategy and operations. What I will say is that it costs less than you might expect and the dividends are huge.
If you are thinking about testing out the ideas of happiness and employee satisfaction, you might look into mindfulness. Research shows that mindfulness can reduce stress and help employees be attentive to the work in the moment. It has even been shown to reduce harmful effects of stress, such as inflammation, so it likely will help to lower health care costs related to stress-induced conditions.
If growing revenue and happy employees are important to you, make sure to take a look at upcoming Business & Entrepreneur Events.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Apr 17, 2013.