The business case for championing happiness at work

Nick Darlington,

Writer

17 September 20210 min read

Working to make your employees happy is just the right thing to do—but it helps your business succeed, too. In this article we share real-world examples of how Front champions workplace happiness to give you inspiration for your very own happiness programs.

People spend a lot of their time at work, so company leaders are uniquely poised with a big opportunity: with all that time to work with, you can make a tremendous impact on your employees’ lives.

Wanting to inspire happiness in others is part of just being a good human. But by building a happy workplace, your reach is exponential. You can fuel happiness in the people around employees—their families and friends—and your customers, too.

That alone should be enough to compel leaders to seek ways to promote workplace happiness, but there’s a business case for it, as well. There’s a growing body of research supporting the notion that happy employees are better for companies.

According to research conducted by ignite80 on behalf of Front, 9.5 out of 10 team members on high-performing teams are happy with their jobs, compared to 7.6 of members on other teams.

Happiness in the workplace has become a business imperative. You might argue that this is obvious, but for those building a business case for promoting it, more data is required. How exactly are happy employees better for companies? By how much are they better? What ROI can come from this?

Below, we show why companies should promote happiness at work. We also share real-world examples of how Front champions workplace happiness to give you inspiration for your very own happiness programs.

Why champion happiness at work—the benefits are plentiful

There are many benefits to having happier employees, beyond the obvious fact that it’s good to encourage people to be happy at a human level.

Higher employee engagement

At Front, we believe that employee happiness and engagement are inexplicably linked and that companies who create happier work environments will also create more engaged employees.

We are not alone in this thinking. In her book, Unlocking Happiness at Work, happiness expert Jennifer Moss debunks the myth that pursuing happiness is a waste of time and shows how it contributes to an engaged and productive workforce.

Increased productivity

Many studies cite the link between employee happiness and workplace productivity. Consider this study conducted by the University of Oxford Saïd Business School where researchers found that happy employees were 13% more productive. Or this study by the University of Warwick, which showed that happiness sparked a 12% increase in productivity.

Higher productivity simply means that an employee can produce high-quality work faster, helping you become more profitable. Exactly how profitable? Let’s take a look.

Heightened creativity

According to Shawn Achor, author of the Happiness Advantage, leading expert in positive psychology, and Harvard graduate—the human brain functions much better when it’s feeling positive.

While researching at Harvard and studying the intersection of human potential, success, and happiness, the researchers discovered that a positive brain leads to higher productivity, increased likelihood of a promotion, longer life expectancy, and yes, you guessed it, increased creativity.

In fact, a positive brain is three times more creative than one that isn’t.

Higher profitability

There’s also a lot of evidence suggesting that happy employees lead to higher company profits. For instance, according to Forbes, companies with highly engaged employees (a by-product of happy employees) outperform their competitors by 147%. And companies that invest in employee experiences* are four times more profitable than those that don’t

*Employee experience is the sum of many interactions and elements in a business that shape how an employee feels about their job (e.g., onboarding techniques, the work environment, and leadership styles).

Employee experience can be both positive and negative and can profoundly affect happiness, productivity, company profits, and customer experience. Learn more about employee experience and its impacts on customer experience in our short guide: How employee experience impacts the customer experience.

Better employee retention

Happier employees are more loyal to companies than their unhappy counterparts and tend to stay longer. In fact, according to iOpener Institute, they plan to stay twice as long at their companies. This loyalty leads to a reduction in costs associated with recruiting, onboarding, and training employees.

Happier and loyal customers

Business success depends on having a steady stream of happy and loyal customers. Loyal customers not only buy your products and services, but also recommend you to others, helping you achieve even more success.

A crucial part of building this loyalty is improving customer experiences at every possible brand interaction. And to enhance customer experiences, you need to invest in employees, their happiness, and their experiences. Why? Because employee experiences shape customer experiences and how customers feel about your company.

For instance, according to Forbes, companies that deliver exceptional customer experiences have employees who are 1.5 times more engaged than those with bad customer experiences.

And it makes sense when you think about it: If your employees are happy, it will rub off on your customers and leave a lasting impression of your company in their eyes. They will be more likely to deliver better customer service, encouraging customers to stay.

More and more companies are acknowledging the importance of investing in employees and their happiness to promote loyalty.

As a result, they’re providing regular training, health benefits, stock options, and competitive wages—to name but a few benefits. It’s why companies like Starbucks and Marriott International remain among the top companies for customer service—and will probably remain there for years to come.

Promoting happiness at work—how we do it at Front

Given how vital employee happiness is for business success, championing it should be a business imperative.

That’s why at Front, we constantly strive to create a happier workplace, going beyond just perks to help employees understand their impact on the company and make them feel like they belong. Here are six ways we do that. Use these ideas as inspiration to cultivate your own happy workplace:

1. Connect work to the company mission. Front’s mission is simple but powerful: work happier. We anchor all initiatives and programs against this mission, so employees (or as we like to call them ‘Fronteers’) have something to get behind and feel passionate about.

Team objectives and key results (OKRs) are built off company OKRs, so employees know how their daily tasks impact the company. If there’s any doubt, the lines of communication are open for employees to ask CEO Mathilde Collin or any other leader.

2. Implant core values into daily work. Creating core values is undoubtedly an essential first step in building a happier workplace. But, embedding them into everyday work and ensuring employees understand and practice them is even more critical. It ensures everyone is on the same page and working together.

At Front, our core values are collaboration, transparency, high standards, care, and low ego. To help us live out these values we:

  • Give teammates access to our work and OKRs.

  • Practice radical honesty: employees are encouraged to challenge colleagues directly while showing them they care personally.

  • Hold weekly All Hands to discuss company metrics and share mistakes and learnings.

  • Have a Front Culture Book to help employees understand how to put these values into practice.

  • Reward employees who actively live out the company’s values and designate a nominated Fronteer of the Week.

Related reading: 11 company culture hacks for happy customers and employees.

3. Practice transparency and collaboration. All employees use Front for their communication which means better collaboration and more transparency. Fronteers have access to shared inboxes and can grant user access to managers.

Fronteers can also quickly bring teammates into a conversation by sharing a draft or email, looping colleagues in to edit through chat, and assigning tasks.

Finally, CEO Mathilde shares goals and progress and the board decks she presents to the board quarterly in All Hands for total transparency from the top.

4. Create a sense of belonging and an inclusive workplace. People want to feel part of a team. At Front, Workplace Experience Managers and our HR team organize:

  • Annual offsite (in person or now virtual) meetings for bonding company-wide.

  • “Fronteer Time” where five people are randomly selected to have a virtual lunch together (you get assigned a Fronteer Buddy from a different department when you join, so you have a built-in friend).

  • Employee resources groups (ERG) like Black at Front, FrontAsia, OutFront, and more.

5. Offer impactful benefits. We’re not talking about ping pong tables and snacks but impactful benefits, including health care, dental, 401K, counseling, parental leave for both parents, wellness stipends, and Flexible Fridays for no meetings and focus time or mental health time off work.

6. Invest in training for career growth. Training helps people do their jobs properly so they can make meaningful company contributions and ensures employees feel professionally fulfilled.

Promoting happiness at work is a business imperative

Happiness is one ingredient of high-performing teams. And those companies that actively champion it will see higher engagement, increased productivity and creativity, better retention, happier customers, and more profits.

Achieving happiness goals certainly won’t happen overnight. But by implementing strategies that go beyond simple perks like training and building an inclusive workplace, you’ll be that much closer to cultivating a sustainable happiness culture.

Read more on how to build a high-performing team in our recent research with Dr. Ron Friedman.

Written by Nick Darlington

Originally Published: 17 September 2021

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