Are you happy at work? Are you responsible for creating a work environment for others?
In this TED video segment The Way We Work, Michael C. Bush shares the importance of cultivating three characteristics within the workplace and why having happy employees is good for business. Bush is CEO of Great Place to Work, a “global research and analytics firm that produces the annual FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list, the 100 Best Workplaces for Women list…and dozens of other distinguished workplace rankings around the world.”
Out of three billion working people throughout the world, only 40% report being happy at work, according to Bush’s survey data. This means that the 60% remaining, or almost two billion people, are not happy at work.
Companies should pay attention to whether or not their employees are happy – this factor has direct correlation to revenue. According to his data, companies that have a lot of happy employees “have three times the revenue growth” compared with companies that have fewer happy employees. These same organizations with many happy employees “outperform the stock market by a factor of three” and have half the rates of employee turnover compared with other organizations.
Bush shares that organizations “don’t have to spend a lot of money to make this happen.” Contrary to what some believe, it is not the extras or the perks of the job that make an employee happy. He states, “it’s all about the way an employee is treated by their leaders and by the people that they work with.” Bush identifies three characteristics to practice and cultivate within an organization to increase happiness within employees.
Trust & Respect
In organizations where employees are happy, trust and respect are always present. He explains that these characteristics must be more than only words. These words should be followed by actions that demonstrate the leader has trust and respect for their employees and colleagues extend these qualities to one another, too.
When employees feel that they are being treated unfairly, trust and respect quickly break down. He shares, “employees want to be treated the same regardless of the rank, tenure, age, experience, or job category compared to anyone else.”
Bush gives an example of Salesforce, a company who “found that men and women who were working in the same job with the same level of proficiency were making different amounts of money.” He shares that Salesforce calculated the difference and “invested 3 million dollars to try and balance things out” in order to treat employees fairly.
Ability to Listen
In order to listen well to all types of people, Bush states, “we have to un-learn a few things.” He states that simply showing the culturally appropriate body language or repeating what one hears back to the speaker are not truly effective ways of listening.
Instead, he recommends being humble and “searching for the best idea possible: that’s what listening is.” Employees can recognize if and when leadership considers an idea they share or if they immediately disregard the contribution. Employees are happier when they feel that their voice actually matters enough that leadership may change their opinions.
Bush recognizes that we all have areas to improve and yet these leadership and organizational characteristics will significantly affect employee happiness. Change for the sake of self-improvement is not enough, though. These types of character changes must be done because one believes there is a greater purpose in the change: that’s what makes the change effective.
He asks leaders and employees to consider this: “The way you behave, the way you treat others, the way you respond, the way you support defines the work experience for everyone around you.”
About DeBoer Fellowship
The DeBoer Fellowship develops change leaders across all sectors of Myanmar society. Through a multi-year training class and additional public programs, the DeBoer Fellowship serves Myanmar by helping to grow competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders. For more information about DeBoer Fellowship or to apply for the Fellowship, please visit: www.deboerfellowship.org.