I met couple of wonderful new people on a retreat this week; both of who made me take a step back and think.
In my old life as an accountant, and particularly when I was running my last business with 12 staff, I’ll confess I wasn’t overly concerned with how “happy” my staff were. They were being paid to do a job, I was under huge pressure running the business and feeding everyone. And I was trained in an era where staff happiness just wasn’t on the agenda.
My last experience of being employed was, frankly just miserable. I was working for a glossy blue chip fashion retailer – the dream job. But I was just so unhappy there (I wasn’t the only one) and no one noticed or cared. I used to drag myself down the car park every morning wondering what difference I made, and what would happen to the business if I never went in again (not a lot, I suspect!)
But over the last few years running The F Word where I’m no longer doing the numbers, and working with clients at a strategic level, I’m seeing more and more the impact when staff are happy within a business. And the more companies I work with, I’m seeing a correlation with the level of happiness in a company with their financial results. Really!
Your staff spends almost half of their waking hours with you, and they have a huge impact on your personal financial future and happiness, so doing all you can to make them happy has to be good investment. (Not to mention you’re really nice and you want everyone to be happy!)
Meet Lisa Seay – an international coach and author
I’ve been reading a book she co-authored called Humans@Work and I’d love to give you highlights, the areas that really resonated with me, and that might help you with the happiness level in your business (and your bottom line.)
Lisa spent many years as an HR leader in large American companies, and the issues she dealt with were always rooted in them feeling frustrated, discouraged, annoyed, angry, ignored, scared, disrespected, uncertain or not valued.
That’s a lot of unhappy workers, and these feelings manifest as toxic behaviour.
Do you think they were bringing their best to work every day? Determined to help their busines succeed?
So, firstly some stats to satisfy the sceptic in you!
- Figures from the World Health Organisation say that 15 billion work days a year are lost to depression and anxiety – costing $1.5 trillion a year
- Harvard Business School reports that a toxic worker costs their business $12k a year, so not only does their presence not add anything to your bottom line, but they’re costing you money!
- And dis-engaged workers are costing businesses between $450bn and $550bn a year.
Are you nurturing or killing your business’s spirit?
Could it be possible that how you run your business is killing people’s spirit? Or maybe you’re the spiritless one – spreading your lack of joy throughout your business?
No business has any hope of getting near its potential if your team aren’t happy and engaged. And there’s much talk about the low productivity in the UK – could this be part of it, recognising the human factor? Unhappy staff can infect your whole business, dragging everyone down with them and affecting morale and productivity.
So it’s important you can recognise the signs in your team so you can deal with it quickly and get their spirit back, rather than quietly getting angry, whilst they infect the rest of your business. Someone being unhappy in your business is a toxic thing, and small things boil up into crises that will take your time and attention away from your business.
The key signs to look out for:
- Someone who only sees problems, dead ends and obstacles – a hundred reasons why something can’t be done. Instead of seeing the opportunity and possible solutions.
- When people start bitching about ridiculously small things – where work has become a series of tiny annoyances every day that they stew on.
- Staff acting like whiny kids – and you feeling like you’re running a crèche not a business. (I can so remember what that feels like!)
- People not knowing how they can make a difference or if it even matters that they are there.
It’s just business
I sometimes hear people say things like “it’s not personal, it’s business” or “there’s no sentiment in business” but honestly I think we’ve moved beyond that. Things are changing and people want more. They want to be happy and fulfilled, and to know that what they do matters.
When it works brilliantly
I worked in a business over 20 years (remember, the one that went bust eventually?) where the happiness and engagement was through the roof. The MD infused so much excitement into the business, and empowered us to take responsibility and make decisions – and everyone just loved working there. We willingly worked 50% more hours a week just for fun and because we wanted to be part of it!
Imagine if your staff felt that way about your business. What could you achieve?
Continuing the theme of happy staff being good for your financial health, next week I’ll be talking to Lynn Hord, who runs the Joy School in London – working with blue chip corporates who totally take on board that happy staff are good for business.