Focus on Making Your Staff Happy

In: BlogDate: Feb 06, 2012By: Henry Stewart

People work best when they’re happy at work.

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We are leading a movement to create happy, empowered and productive workplaces.

How can we help you and your people to find joy in at least 80% of your work?

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That principle is the core of everything we do at Happy (a training business in London, UK). Think about whether you agree with it. If you do, and I find over 95% of people do, then what should be the key focus of management? By simple logic, it should clearly be creating an environment where people are happy and feel good about themselves.

When I speak at conferences, I like to ask the audience to raise their hands if that is the main focus of management in their organisation. Generally one or two in a hundred raise their hands. (I suspect I’d get a different response if I spoke at Zappos.) Yet there is strong evidence to suggest such a focus makes good business sense.

One restaurant chain in the UK carried out research some years ago to find out why sales at some of their restaurants grew faster than at others. They found one factor stood out in explaining the difference: how happy the staff said they were in the annual staff survey. For a time they even changed their managers’ bonuses so that 50% was based solely on those staff survey results.

They still wanted to maximise growth and profits, of course. However, they believed that the way to achieve that was not to target these elements but instead to target the key factor that creates growth and profits, namely how happy its staff were. They sent a clear message to their managers: ‘Your key focus should be on making your staff happy.’

This is backed up by hard academic evidence. Alex Edmans of the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania analysed the result of investing in the companies listed in the Great Place to Work listings over the last 25 years. He found a difference, compared to the stock market, of 3.5% a year. An investment which would have returned $100,000 in a tracker fund would have achieved $236,000 from investing in companies that focus on creating great workplaces.

So how would your organisation be different if the main focus of management was making your staff happy?

Most people respond that it would not only be more enjoyable but it would be easier to get things done and would be more productive. So what can you do to make it happen?

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he has built a company which has won multiple awards for some of the best customer service in the country and being one of the UK’s best places to work.

Henry was listed in the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 list of the most influential management thinkers in the world. "He is one of the thinkers who we believe will shape the future of business," explained list compiler Stuart Crainer.

His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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Our Happy Workplaces Conference is our biggest event of the year, and we'd love for you to join us on Wednesday 15th May.

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This year's event is CPD accredited, and speakers include Isaac Getz, Michele Zanini, Caron Bradshaw OBE and Michelle Hill.

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