Happy at Work

What Makes Employees Happy at Work?

  • Wednesday August 4, 2021
  • Inspiration   Leadership  

What is the key to making your employees happy at work? Happy employees are the people who make your team function well. They offer skills and productivity that help a company succeed. Knowing the best ways to create and sustain their happiness is one of the most important tasks you have as a leader at a company.


How to Make Employees Feel Valued


The first thing you want to do is make sure your employees feel valued. When it comes to what makes employees happy, this is at the top of the list. Showing employees they are valued makes their happiness increase. Happy workers do better at their tasks.


There’s another reason to show your appreciation. When you do this, workers feel validated about what they do. This can lead to excitement about getting things done. Providing positive encouragement and reinforcement is a great way to increase engagement. Engaged workers are happy workers so do what you can to foster that.


However, it isn’t all on your shoulders as a leader. Workers can be part of what makes employees happy, too. When you show appreciation, it can be woven into the tapestry of the company culture. Encourage the workers to show their own appreciation. Even acknowledging the support of others can help.

Lord Richard Layard, a British labor economist and a preeminent happiness researcher, encourages companies to get away from perceiving happiness as a fluffy, non-measurable concept and start taking it seriously.


According to the economist, things that make people happy at work are the same things that make people happy in their lives: a sense of belonging, social connections, and a purpose or meaning.


Happiness can’t be achieved without mental and physical health.


Mental health is becoming a top well-being concern in the workplace. A high fraction of the workforce is currently suffering from mental illness — approximately one in six. The World Economic Forum found a clear correlation between mental health scores (as measured by The World Health Organisation Five Well-Being Index, WHO-5) and productivity. The mental health scores for the most productive employees were twice as high as the least productive.


Mental health and employee happiness


A recent McKinsey research showed that both on-site and remote employees are concerned about well-being, flexibility and connection.


Employee fears


Employee autonomy is a key driver of flexibility, and therefore, of happiness.


Which sector of employees are happy at work?


Here is what can leaders do to increase employee happiness according to Lord Richard Layard and McKinsey:


Lead by motivation, inspiration and enjoyment, rather than by creating anxiety and fear.

Incorporate more autonomy and fluidity into every role, guard against micromanagement.

Encourage small moments of connection and engagement among team members.

Demonstrate commitment to protecting well-being and offering help.


How to Bring a Sense of Purpose or Meaning to Your Team


Creating a sense of purpose in your team can also help with creating happy employees. One of the first things you can do to create meaning in your team is to have a conversation about goals. Sit down and choose goals to measure. You should always have something you are working toward.


Another point of conversation is the company’s mission and vision. This can give insight into why your team is doing the things they do. This isn’t a conversation to have once. It should be a regular topic brought up in meetings to ensure you remain dedicated to what the company stands for.


It’s also essential to make your work matter. Tracking goals and progress all the way through to completion is important. Look at the outcome and see the difference the team has made. These things add to a sense of purpose as you move forward with new projects and tasks.


Keep Work Interesting and Challenging


The work your team members do should be challenging. This makes it interesting and keeps people occupied. However, there is a difference between a challenge and an impossible task. The former is useful for a team to grow while the latter can make people feel dejected or as if they can’t make a difference. Always err toward a challenge but one that is possible to meet.


Every team is different so you’ll need to find the balance that works best for them. What’s a minor challenge for one time might be insurmountable for others. Gauge the skills and abilities of your team when choosing the right goals to keep things exciting.


Autonomy and Flexibility in Their Work


If there’s one thing you want to avoid in terms of what makes employees happy it’s micromanaging. When you stand over your employees and watch their every move, it makes them feel as if they aren’t trusted. It can make them have doubts about their own abilities, which you do not want to foster.


Instead, empower your employees. Give them the chance to make some of the big decisions on the team. This results in employees who feel they can handle anything, rather than workers who look to you when a decision has to be made. However, make sure you provide support for the workers as they make these decisions. Be a helper to them when it’s needed.


When it comes to the work that team members do, feeling a sense of ownership over it can increase positive feelings. Doing work for the sake of it isn’t the same thing. Let employees feel like a bigger part of things and you support their wellbeing and happiness.


Mental Health Resources and Support for Employees


Even with all the tips above, mental health is something to consider with your team. Burnout is a serious issue and it’s important to avoid it however possible. Having regular check-ins with each team member is the best way to go. Find out how people are feeling. Discover the areas where they could use some help and use that information to create a team that excels.


It’s also useful to encourage transparent and open communication with your employees. This is especially essential when it comes to one-to-one meetings. Your workers should feel as if they can come to you for help whenever it is needed.


Another change you can make is to respect employees’ need for time off. Going on vacation is supposed to offer a time to relax and kick back. Everyone needs that for their mental health. If you’re sending emails and messages to them the entire time they are gone, that isn’t going to encourage them to get the respite they need.


Tips for Leaders to Keep Employees Happy


There are several tips you can use to ensure your employees are happy. Each plays into what makes employees happy and many are fairly easy to implement. The first is to lead through enjoyment, inspiration, and enjoyment. This creates positive feelings that workers want to keep up. Leading by fear or anxiety puts people off their game.


Moving away from micromanagement is another great tip. Wherever possible, create fluidity in roles on your team. Giving autonomy to the employees makes them feel trusted and helps keep them in high spirits. It’s a key factor in what makes employees happy.


Another aspect of what makes employees happy is connection. As the leader of a team, you should work to create moments where team members can connect and relate to each other. Adding any form of engagement to the team will result in happy feelings that do the company well.


Finally, you have to show you are committed to what makes employees happy. You can’t just say you care about this. You have to follow through with your actions. Offer help whenever it’s needed. Step in when someone might be having trouble. You might be surprised by how far that goes.


Teamraderie experience that help increase employee happiness at work and well-being: 


1. Deepen Team Connection with Art

Can art relax the mind and lead to an increase in team well-being? What could your team gain from a shared creative experience? 

Your team receives a kit with beautifully wrapped kit with a canvas, paints, and brushes. An instructor from a female-led San Francisco-based art studio joins you live and walks you through each step to creating your masterpiece.


2. Cultivate Team Connection…With Comedy

Improv is proven to help teams establish deep understanding of each other. Improv is about being in the moment, listening to one another, and exercising empathy. It helps team members feel that they belong.

Improv creates a safe place for people to act in genuine ways that are outside of the standard norms. Improv is about being who you are.

Show Appreciate for Your Team with These Experiences

Coffee ‘Cupping’ Technique – Learn and Classify as a Team

Includes Kit

Includes Kit

Vegan Option

Vegan Option



55 min

Up Your Team’s Game: Learn from Your Favorite Sports



45 min
$1,500 for up to 30 people

Celebrate Female Entrepreneurs and their Innovation in Snack

Includes Kit

Includes Kit

Vegan Option

Vegan Option



25 min
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