Better than a Raise: Connections are the Key to Employee Happiness

Better than a Raise: Connections are the Key to Employee Happiness

“From now on, we’ll use this white board to track every interaction you have had with a client. If you don’t meet your quota, not only will everyone see, but there will be repercussions.”
“The funeral is in the morning, so you’ll be back in office in the afternoon, right?”
“I heard you did poorly in the meeting. We’ll discuss it in your employee review. “

If you are like me and you heard one (or all) of these things from your boss, chances are, you’re not feeling happy at work. You might shrug this off as “normal.” But what if I told you it was taking a toll on your ability to connect with your boss, your co-workers and your overall happiness?

In my case, it took a total reassessment of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be and who I wanted to become in order to know what to look for in a work environment. As much as they are interviewing you for a job, you are interviewing them for a home, since you’ll spend more time with them than you will with your own family!

The Vertical Couple

Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, found that the single most important social bond at work is the “vertical couple” between an employee and her boss. This relationship predicts everything from longevity in a position to everyday productivity. Shawn Achor, author The Happiness Advantage even states that a bad relationship with your boss can be as bad for you as a steady diet of fried foods. No thank you. (But, yum.)

Until I started working at Swift Kick, that concept of employee happiness would have made no sense to me. For a long time, I felt like I needed to keep my head down and check off the boxes until I was there long enough to get a promotion and higher pay. And when that is the culture you have been told to learn, it’s easy to play along, which can result in a lot of unhappy employees.

But, here’s the thing, happiness and employee engagement go hand in hand. Overall, happy employees are more productive, engaged, energetic and resilient. As a result, happiness increases productivity by 12%. It’s hard to have one without the other.

“I made a list of the happiest periods in my life, and I realized that none of them involved money. I realized that building stuff and being creative and inventive made me happy. Connecting with a friend and talking through the entire night until the sun rose made me happy.”

Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh 

Increasing Team Happiness

As a leader of a team, here are three things you can do to work towards increased happiness in the workplace:

1. Ask the question, “How can I help?”

These four words are powerful when heard from the leader of a team. Rather than shouting demands, you are offering assistance. This allows your “vertical couple” relationship to develop with trust instead of fear.

2.Play with your team.

Studies have shown that allowing time for creativity outside of regular tasks “creates new neural connections.” Not only are you having fun with your team, but you’re making them smarter. (Win-win!)

3. Shift your thinking.

You don’t supervise individuals, you supervise a “superorganism.” As stated in the book Connected, this means that just as the brain can accomplish incredible things that no single neuron can do, your team can do more than any single person. It’s the connections that make the real achievements happen.

Employee happiness is more than just having team members that come in smiling. Smiling can be faked. Have you noticed anything that increases happiness within your team? How can you bolster your team’s connections to encourage retention and productivity?

Melissa Ruiz
melissa@swiftkickhq.com

I train teams and their leaders to create a culture of connection. Free Hugger. Fitness Enthusiast. Taco lover. IG: melissa.a.ruiz