There’s good news for the Australian workforce as a new study finds that, in general, Australian employees are happy at work. As many organisations discover the remarkable effect a motivated and happy workforce has on productivity, a new report ‘It’s time we all work happy: The secrets of the happiest companies and employees‘, commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half, reveals the true drivers behind employee happiness and how businesses can nurture a positive work culture.
Aussie workers rank middle-of-the-road (68/100), behind the United States (72), Germany (71) and The Netherlands (70); on par with Canada (68); and preceding the UK (67), Belgium (65) and France (64).
Who are Australia’s happiest workers?
Half’s research finds the majority of Australians are happy in their jobs, with the happiest worker’s profile typically being management-level professionals, aged 55+, working in the marketing or creative industries and in small organisations.
Senior managing director at Robert Half Asia Pacific, David Jones, says, “The majority of business leaders acknowledge that workplace happiness has a tangible impact on productivity and profitability. Australians are known globally for their positive attitude in the workplace and it is encouraging to see this reflected throughout our research.
“Happy employees tend to be more engaged, loyal, creative and productive than their less-satisfied counterparts,” Jones confirms. “They also take fewer sick days, tend to be more creative, proactive and express a greater sense of loyalty to the company. Creating a positive culture that engages employees and boosts satisfaction levels enables companies to remain competitive while having a direct impact on business performance.”
What makes a happy worker?
The main driver of workplace happiness for Australians is that they are treated with fairness and respect, followed by a sense of pride in their organisation. The third most impactful element to workplace happiness is having a sense of accomplishment from their work.
“We know that interest in a job peaks among Australian employees who are in their second year of tenure. Beyond this timeframe, employees need to be rewarded with frequent feedback to maintain their spark for the job,” says Jones. “Checking in regularly with employees to discuss the evolution of their objectives, their career development, and providing ongoing feedback will make them feel more appreciated, which in turn, enhances employee happiness.”
Happy employees are healthier employees
Not only are happy workers healthier with lower stress levels, 62 percent say they have good friends at work. Companies with strong internal team relationships are 2.7 times more likely to have happier workers compared to those who do not get on with their colleagues.
Nic Marks, CEO and founder of Happiness Works, says, “Good relationships are the glue of an organisation. For managers, it’s all about encouraging relationships for reasons beyond narrow business needs. When employees have friends at work, it has a broad impact on happiness.”
Jones adds, “Happy employees also create a positive impression of their company externally, as it is evident they put more effort into their work, and in turn deliver a better client service.”
6 factors that influence happiness at work:
1. Right fit for the job and company: When you hire people who mesh well with your workplace culture, they assimilate with greater ease and begin making substantive contributions quickly. Conversely, a poor fit can dampen the morale of the entire team.
2. A sense of empowerment: Empowering staff to make their own decisions improves happiness at work. Support your staff by making them feel more invested in their job, and help them to develop critical skills that they can use to advance their careers, while making more meaningful contributions to the company.
3. Feeling appreciated: When you show your staff that you appreciate their hard work and dedication, you instil loyalty and create a positive working environment.
4. Interesting and meaningful work: Employees who see their work as worthwhile are nearly 2.5 times happier than others. An important part of this is being able to provide employees with a shared vision that helps them stay focused on their goals during both the good times and the challenging times.
5. A sense of fairness: Always strive for fairness and transparency in your decision making. That means clear policies around pay, promotions and projects. Make sure employees feel heard, and have a chance to speak out when they feel a sense of inequity.
6. Positive workplace relationships: A sense of camaraderie at work improves employee communication, cooperation and collaboration, and feeds innovation.
About the research
The annual study is based on the results of an online survey of more than 2,000 workers in Australia conducted in the third quarter of 2016 by an independent research company. In analysing the data, a post-sample weighting methodology was used to match respondents by age, gender, education level, occupation/role and job sector.
Robert Half offers specialised recruitment services and is a world leader in sourcing for and hiring accounting, finance, banking and technology professionals.
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