12 Ways in Which SMEs Can Build a Happier Workforce


Companies are moving from work-life balance to work life integration with the objective to have productive, engaged and happy workforce. What does happiness mean to an employee? Why does it matter to the success of a business?  To some, it means job security and safety, minimal office politics, or the level of motivation one has that pushes him/her to work every day.  To others, it could mean job satisfaction, the ability to contribute in a meaningful work.

Happiness or well-being is the experience of joy, contentment, combined with a feeling that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile. It is a mindset that allows a person to maximize performance and achieve one’s potential. 

One informal study reveals that people work harder when they are happy.  In fact, workplace happiness can impact everything in your company.  One research gives some interesting results that happy employees have

  • 27% higher productivity
  • 33% higher sales
  • 2X higher creativity
  • Financially, there is a 14.2% increase of operating income when compared to the companies where employees were disengaged.
  • A happy employee is 89% less likely to leave the organization when compared to an unhappy one.  Stability Index is higher.
  • Companies with engaged workforce have 48% fewer accidents and 37% lesser quality defects than their counterparts.

There are some ways in which SMEs may build a culture which is effective and productive aligned to organisational vision and mission. They are:

1. Culture of being Happy and Healthy

Over time, it has become clear that there is a need to shift from employee engagement to the employee well-being and happiness. Creating a happy, healthy workforce takes a little more than a few staff benefits. Companies need to create a ‘wellness culture’ throughout the organisations in order to reap the biggest reward.

It is to realise that a wellness programme should aim to improve all elements of an employees’ work life, including their mental health.  Hence, companies must consider implementing initiatives to help employees proactively deal with stress, such as stress management classes.

Offering things such as flexible working can be one solution to the problem, as this can help employees better manage their time, workload and work life integration.

2. Inspirational Leadership

You should view each employee as an individual person, not just a job title or subordinate. If you want to earn respect, you need to be empathetic to the needs of your employees and treat them with respect. This doesn’t mean you have to try to be their best friend. Inspirational leadership is a highly prized quality. It means to be a leader who inspires, motivates and builds confidence in the team. 

3. Communication

Don’t just talk or listen – communicate. This has nothing to do with your intelligence or charm. It’s about engaging in discussion and actually, interacting with your employees. Clear and effective communication is one of the best ways to motivate others and promote organisational productivity. Further, if your employees don’t understand your vision or believe in what you’re trying to do, they’re not going to feel passionate about their work.

4. Consistence

Erratic leadership is confusing and unsettling. Make sure you know what you want and what you’re hoping to achieve before communicating the message to other people.

5. Recognition

Praise and reward hard work and recognise achievement.  Saying goes: Praise in Public and Reprimand in Private. If you only concentrate on the negatives, you’ll damage confidence and morale. This will further result in more negativity at the workplace. We suggest to companies irrespective of types of situations they face never reprimand an employee in front of their colleagues. This is highly demoralising and hurts the core of an individual.

6. Trust

Creating, building and retaining trust is one of the most difficult dimensions of any relationship. If you want to generate trust in the workplace, your employees need to believe that your thoughts and intentions are genuine and your word is your bond. 

7. Caring

Employees feel happier when employers ask them about their professional lives or even remember details about their families and activities. A simple “How are you?” or “How are your kids?” would be adequate in making the employee feel cared for and remembered.

8. Being Flexible

Today’s educated generations demand flexibility. This allows employees to have more control over their work-life integration.

It is not right to expect employees to deliver better results if they are not able to spend quality time with their families or refresh their minds after long hours of work.

9. Show Gratitude 

The main reason most employees leave their jobs is because they feel unappreciated. Simple gestures, such as saying hello, thank you or even giving credit where it is due, will help in creating a workforce that feels valued.

10. Positive Physical Space

When employees enjoy coming to workplace in time every day they identify with workspace.  They feel that the space identifies and aligns with their self-image and enhances their sense of belonging. They’re more likely to communicate with their peers and develop stronger bonding with the company.  The famous late Steve Jobs pointer is, the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

11. Ethical Practices

It is found that employees at SMEs businesses are 10 times more likely to call their workplace great when they say their leaders are honest and ethical.

12. Integrity

Integrity at the top provides support to an engaged workforce. Confident employees, in turn, make their organizations more effective and competitive. At the front of the pack, the best Small and Medium Workplaces enjoy roughly two times the revenue growth of their peers.

Happy employees are better employees. Positive workplaces show higher levels of engagement which goes directly to performance and productivity, innovation and creativity, team work and collaboration.  Happy employees are typically engaged in their work, motivated and aligned with the vision and mission of their company and get along well with their colleagues.

Companies with low employee happiness tend to have higher absenteeism and employee turnover, more accidents on the job, more shrinkage or theft, lower productivity, inferior customer service, and lower profitability.  On the other hand, companies with engaged and happy workforce tend to have higher earnings. Therefore, employees are first and customers second and profitability third.

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