Why employee happiness is so important

Most U.S. employees are unhappy at work, according to a 2016 survey from The Conference Board . Last year’s study showed the highest satisfaction level since 2005—yet still less than half of U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs.

As an employer, should that concern you?

Yes! And here’s why…

An increasing body of research shows that a positive work environment fosters employee friendships, enhances personal well-being and ultimately benefits the organization’s bottom line.

Positive and virtuous workplaces lead to higher performance

Organizations that institute “positive and virtuous practices” achieve higher productivity, customer satisfaction and financial performance, according to research from the University of Michigan.

Harvard Business Review  reported on the research, which showed that workplace performance was higher in organizations that displayed positive traits such as:

  • caring for colleagues as friends
  • avoiding blame
  • forgiving mistakes
  • emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work
  • treating each other with respect, gratitude, trust and integrity

These practices increase positive emotions, buffer against negative events and attract and bolster employees, all of which contribute to better performance.

Close friendships generate employee satisfaction

A recent Workforce  article also supports the value of close friendships at work. Citing numerous studies, the article, “Friendly Advice: How Work Friendships Can Create Positive Cultures,” reported that workplace friendships can be linked to reduced absenteeism, lower turnover, higher productivity, higher profitability, greater employee satisfaction, better teamwork and more open communication.

“Studies show that employees with a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, and more loyal to their organizations,” says Ron Friedman , in the book The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, excerpted on the Science of Us blog. “They get sick less often, suffer fewer accidents, and change jobs less frequently.”

Add to the list physical and mental health benefits, according to research published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review. Researchers analyzed 58 past studies across 15 countries to gather evidence that stronger relationships with co-workers can have positive effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

The findings show that “people who identified more strongly with their colleagues at work and with their organizations had greater psychological well-being, and also better physical health,” according to a review of the research on Forbes.com .

Employee happiness keeps workers safer and aids recovery

So, what does this have to do with workers’ compensation?

Creating a positive work environment can help your employees stay safer and have a smoother recovery if they do become injured. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Workplace injuries are more common among new hires, so low employee turnover can help prevent injuries.
  • In a positive environment, employees are comfortable reporting workplace safety issues and taking the time necessary to perform their jobs safely.
  • When employees know their employers care about them, there’s less chance the claim process will become contentious if an injury does occur.
  • Workplace friendships create an added incentive for employees to return to work as soon as medically possible after an injury.

The numerous benefits to creating a positive workplace make a compelling case for building a supportive, affirming work environment.


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