4 Steps to Building a Happy Team

Michael Gallagher, .

There is unprecedented diversity in the workforce; there is also a gap between the values at one end of the spectrum and those at the other. Traditionalists live to work; younger employees work to live. These workers expect to be happy at work. Their grandparents or great-grandparents would have found this an absurd requirement; employment was a privilege. Traditionalists needed the job; today, the workforce needs Gen Y. Keeping them happy is not just nice; it’s a must for attracting and retaining top talent.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that “Happy employees produce more than unhappy ones over the long term. They routinely show up at work, they’re less likely to quit, they go above and beyond the call of duty, and they attract people who are just as committed to the job. Moreover, they’re not sprinters; they’re more like marathon runners, in it for the long haul.”

How do you create happy though?

Create a team-oriented approach. One factor that can increase happiness is having a cohesive, functional team. The “new” workforce is socially-oriented and works best in collaborative situations. Creating opportunities for this support and feedback is essential. In addition, social support at work helps employees see stress as a challenge, not a threat.

Give recognition. “Good work, everyone!” That’s not going to cut it. One of the top reasons why employees leave jobs is the lack of recognition. It must be targeted and specific and earned. Instead of a blanket, “Good job,” a manager has to identify the person, the task and the outcome.

Provide challenge. Not only is it beneficial to the organization to continually develop talent, it benefits the employee (and thus the organization again!). Lack of challenge is another factor in employee loss; challenge creates a sense of vitality, and this boosts productivity, energy, and happiness.

Allow for development. Even when the economy is soft, it is important to invest in employee happiness so you retain and recruit talent. The chance to develop is crucial for Gen X and Y employees, who are committed to life-long learning. They do not want to be in the same job or position in 30 years; they want to advance.

Gen X and Gen Y employees want a long-term relationship with an organization – but only if that organization is going to put the effort into the relationship. We hear a lot about motivation, but its happiness we need to focus on. People are either motivated to pursue a course of action, or they are not. What businesses can do, though, is provide the stimulus, support, and feedback necessary for motivated employees to be happy employees.

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Michael Gallagher

Mike Gallagher, President of Michael Gallagher Advisory, has spent the past 20 years helping small business owners and managers develop and implement strategic business plans, achieve sustainable, targeted growth and solve the problems that keep them up at night.