Recognise This! – Rules for happy employees only work when leadership is willing to commit for it.

My timing seems to be a bit off. Yesterday I wrote about 4 steps to happiness at work, and then today Fast Company  comes out with an article on just that – “Secrets of America’s Happiest Companies.”

Looking at organisations including Pfizer, NASA, Philips, and Adecco and further drawing on research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Globoforce, the article boils down these5 rules of happy employees” (quoting):

  1. Happy employees don’t stay in one role for too long. Movement and the perception of improvement create satisfaction. Status quo, on the other hand, creates burnout.
  2. There is a strong correlation between happiness and meaning; having a meaningful impact on the world around you is actually a better predictor of happiness than many other things you think will make you happy.
  3. A workplace is far likelier to be a happy place when policies are in place to ensure that people regularly get acknowledgement and praise for a job well done.
  4. Recognise that employees are people first, workers second, and create policies that focus on their well-being as individuals.
  5. Emphasise work/life integration, not necessarily “balance.”

Need that in even simpler terms? If you want to create a company culture and workplace in which employees want to engage because they’re happier for doing so:

  1. Offer challenges
  2. Spotlight the deeper meaning in the work
  3. Recognise people
  4. Remember employees are human, not robots
  5. Make space for employees’ lives

These individual steps are fairly simple. It may even be easy to implement them with specific managers or in specific groups. But changing the culture of an organisation such that all employees, at every level, are on board – well, that’s a bit of different challenge.

You certainly won’t solve that challenge with yet another local initiative or programme owned by HR. You must create a culture that is owned by every employee. And the most solid culture to build that can feed all of these elements is a true culture of recognition.

What would you add to the list of rules for happy employees?