However there is no evidence to suggest that worried employees are more effective; just the opposite in fact, research shows that content and happy staff are more creative and productive.
You might recognise some of the symptoms of over-stressed and unhappy people at work:
- Working slowly
- Making mistakes more often
- Unable to concentrate
- Late for work or meetings
- Not turning up
- Getting into disputes and arguments with colleagues
- Unable to delegate tasks
However, when you create a happy working environment performance improves in many ways, staff:
- See the big picture and think creativity
- Create and articulate compelling visions
- Resolve complex problems
- Make their case through better verbal reasoning
- Build relationships through improved social skills
- Be more trusting of others
- Deal more constructively with criticism
Here are 3 ways to create a happy environment
This does not mean setting goals or targets that people have no chance of achieving. However, people tend to be happiest when their experience and skills just match the difficulty of the task. There is a little stretch needed but they don’t feel threatened by it.
Threats tend to stress people and then performance overall goes down. Yes, you might succeed in getting something done urgently if you threaten the person – do it or else! But this will reduce trust and loyalty and have unforeseen repercussions somewhere in the system. Staff tend to store these threats and find some way to get back at you in the future!
People blossom when praised. Not the insincere ‘good job’ type. I you don’t really value what the person has done, this will be communicated and we all have very good ‘insincerity sensors’. But don’t save your praise just for the big challenging tasks.
Praise is free so you can afford to scatter it liberally. A happy work environment flourishes better when there is a lot of praise about rather than when it is just saved up for special occasions.
Staff are happier when they get feedback about how they are doing. So it’s good to have clear agreements with employees so that if performance does not meet expectation you can go back to the agreement to question what’s needed rather than criticise the person.
I used to have a ‘conversation for success’ with all my staff. Invariably I discovered that the success they wanted for themselves in the job (usually to be very good at what they did) matched what I wanted also. This created an ideal context in which to give critical feedback – I was helping them achieve what they wanted. Again, it only works if you are sincere and not just looking for an opportunity to punish them.
The effects of reward and punishment have been studied for decades and the result is always the same: Reward produces a happy and productive environment at work and punishment doesn’t.