Why Employee Happiness & Wellbeing Needs To Be A Top Priority For Every CEO?

The following blog has been contributed by Shikha Verma. She is a woman who has worn numerous hats over the 17 years of rich acumen in HR & Learning & Development space across IT and Manufacturing Industry. With passion, perseverance, creativity as her driving force, she is a force to reckon with!

During these uncertain and complex times, employees are demanding a more conducive work environment where they feel safe – mentally, as well as emotionally. Happiness & wellbeing can be a key differentiator for employer branding during these adverse times. Leaders need to enable ways that can enhance the work life experience & create employee stickiness. And yet, despite all the research & data indicating otherwise,  ‘Happiness & wellbeing’ concept continues to be undervalued & underestimated by the CEOs across industries. Leaders who are able to regard this as a core value and strategise on enhancing the same, shall embark on a successful & sustainable business journey. Also, when well integrated with the mainstream management strategy, it certainly provides a huge opportunity to not just stay afloat but also be able to thrive & innovate for better business prospects.

COVID 19 has had devastating effects on people’s mental health & physical health, and there has been a noticeable increase in stress & anxiety levels due to the pandemic. Subsequently, they are operating out of lower levels of energy, reduced focus and lack of orientation, as well. With the advent of WFH & virtual workplace, it has become increasingly important & at the same time, difficult to foster better understanding, cooperation and collaboration amongst teams. While HR & Management has been working aggressively to keep the business running, an increased number of layoffs has only built in a strong sense of insecurity & negative apprehension, instead.

In few companies, managers’ desperate measures to ensure work continuity & closure has even worsened the employee experience, and jeopardised even the well-functioning hybrid teams. It is imperative that this is taken cognizance of and leader’s start to work on a ‘Life-Work Balance‘ strategy.

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Happy employees are proven to demonstrate 65% more energy and are 2 times more productive than their counterparts. An extensive study conducted by the University of Oxford found that happy employees are 13% more productive when happy & when it comes to sales people, happiness has an even greater impact , rising sales by 37%. Reason enough, for the CEOs to start focussing on fostering a culture of happiness & wellbeing.The only best way to ensure a pull instead of a push is to enthuse and spark them from within. Happiness is scientifically proven and the good news is that workplace happiness is a reality & can be approached in a systematic way using researched tools and methodology . As far as my assessment says, while the need may be felt & there is evidence enough to encourage the leaders to work on this concept, they do fall short of the right skills and competence to drive the same. Hence formulating a people strategy incorporating the same, would also mean hiring the right talent – OD Professional who can take it to fruition. Most of these meaningful interventions, meet a hard stop either due to management change or due to budgetary constraints, hence it’s equally critical that it is well thought through and sustained for a minimum of 3 years.

In order to sustain & scale the benefits of such an intervention, suggest you design a ‘hook.’ This means involving the key stakeholders and keep a tap on how it’s shaping up your people & business through regular reviews. Define the business metrics and incorporate, it as a part of the monthly dashboard to show the impact. The #newnormal calls for the creation of an ecosystem that fosters better relationships, allows collaboration &  team work and improves their ability to handle stress & uncertainty.

‘Happiness at workplace’ means better awareness which leads to all the above. A healthy mind state results in more stable employees thereby cutting the recruitment budget which ends up improving profitability. Happiness at workplace means employees have a sense of belonging, enjoy autonomy at work & have the freedom to decide. They connect with the environment and the people around while being satisfied with the way their work is being rewarded and recognized – financially & otherwise. and they feel valued & respected at their workplace. HR & L n D teams can carefully design a roadmap to address all these facets , what’s more critical is to not just talk about it or publicise it to attract talent but to actually implement it in spirit day in and day out. Organisations can either be on an upward journey by contributing towards work-life integration resulting in enhanced employee experiences or find themselves on a reverse treadmill, choice is ours to make NOW!!

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