Happy employees are over-rated. Let me give you two examples. Donald Trump and Boris Johnson were very happy employees. They were empowered and clearly enjoyed their jobs. They were very engaged on social media as an ambassador for their governments. Both were also impervious to feedback, pursued the agenda that they had personally prioritised and causesd a high level of employee attrition and unhappiness.
Happy Employees Needs to Be Defined Correctly
This is my problem with the term “happy”. It means different things to different people. There are studies that prove happiness is linked to productivity. But I think we’re reading them wrong. We’re confusing the state of not being unhappy with being happy. It’s quite obvious that unhappy people aren’t likely to be productive. But happy people may or may not be productive.
In my boom-time IT days, we used to refer to certain long-standing employees as VIPs – vesting in peace. These employees were happy, blissed out, in fact, and just idling while waiting to collect their shares and leave.
A not unhappy employee is happy enough?
There’s a vast difference between being unhappy and being happy. Now, before you write me off as a corporate grinch, go check out glassdoor.com and see the comments for your dream company. You will see that even companies which have a fantastic retention rate have some recurring cons.
What can organizations focus on instead of happy employees?
Satisfaction, engagement, safety, transparency – these are very achievable goals to have for an organisation. They are measurable and will contribute to making people happy. Beyond that, it depends on the person’s individual situation.
How can we do that? This takes me to my learning from a session by Anil Pillai at the CRM Academy of Asia Roundtable He suggests that we measure how easy it is for customers to transact with you. Leading from that, from an employee perspective, how easy is it for people to work with you? On glassdoor.com you will see a number of people complaining about how HR policies are unduly restrictive or pointless, how difficult it is to move internally and similar issues. Do they cause unhappiness? Undoubtedly.
A good organisation is one that minimises friction to getting things done. A great one enables more of its members to realise their potential.
Keeping employees happy may require you to take a stance that can be detrimental for business. Ola has stated clearly that it is secular and will not support either drivers or customers that discriminate. Google and Microsoft have agreed to employee demands that they stop working on certain sensitive assignments for the US government. The language of employees as partners is being put into practice.