There’s the old saying that goes “Fake it until you make it.” In cases of workplace happiness, however, there’s no faking the way to better spirits. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to sow the seeds of joy. Communication, structure, and a bit of recognition can make a world of difference. Plus, a happy workplace means workers feel invested in the success of your company. They want this awesome place to thrive, as much for their sakes as for yours. Here are some things to consider to make employees more eager and invested in the company.

Happiness generates loyalty

A cheerful atmosphere breeds an appreciation for, and loyalty to, the company. Plus, happiness makes people more energized and productive—some studies estimate 20 percent more productive—and better productivity means better performance.

When workers are unhappy, they tend to take fewer risks. On the flip side, a happy employee will take more calculated—and usually good—risks.

A happy place equals a better support network, too. Workers don’t have so much fear of making mistakes. While mistakes shouldn’t be the norm, some can be good. People can learn from them, which can lead to innovation.

Plus, happiness is contagious. We like to be around happy or content people. It breeds creativity, too.

Happiness saves money

Entrepreneur holding four twenty dollar bills
Entrepreneur holding four twenty dollar bills

Happy workers tend to stay with the company. Unhappy ones tend to leave. That drains time and resources when management is left scrambling for replacements. Then, depending on how much training needs to be done for the job, that can easily affect not just the person doing the training, but also anyone else the new hire deals with regularly.

Happiness also can make money. Content workers will better interact with customers and clients. That makes for good word of mouth, and seeds repeat business.

On the flip side, unhappy workers tend to get less done.

Happiness is healthy

Stress can make a mess of one’s health. A bit of stress can be good, of course. The fight-or-flight response can be a life-saver when someone is in danger, and some stress can make a person focus better.

For the employee who is constantly in fear of being fired, or reprimanded, or feeling in over their head with a project, that can do both physical and psychological damage. Some of the ways stress can hurt one’s health include:

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Raised risk of heart attack
  • Weakened immune system
  • Elevated blood sugar (and an elevated risk for Type 2 diabetes)
  • Stomachaches
  • Fertility issues
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Missed periods
  • Muscle tension (which can lead to headaches and backaches)
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Undereating and weight loss
  • Drug or alcohol abuse (which can lead to a host of other problems)

Typically the body will release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to help through a tense situation. If the danger is past, things should go back to normal. Under prolonged stress, that hyper-alert state will continue, and it puts added stress on a person’s heart, muscles, and other vital organs.

When employees are happy and less stressed, that’s good for their health. That results in fewer sick days and better productivity.

Happiness is visibility

If a  person feels invisible, they’ll act like they are.

Reinforcement—it doesn’t have to be all about pay raises—in the form of praise and recognition can make a person feel their efforts mean something.

Treating workers to lunch, gift cards, wellness or team-building activities can take employees on a mini-mental vacation. If managers can swing it, extra vacation days, childcare options, flextime, gym membership, or occasional work-from-home options—all can show you value your workers enough that you want to help them manage their lives a bit better.

It also helps keep that work-life balance in check, which is also vital for happiness.

In terms of visibility, the flip side is micromanaging. An owner or manager watching every move is only going to make a worker feel like they’re not trusted, period, or that they’re not trusted to do the job they’ve been hired to do.

Accomplishing something on their own can instill a sense of pride and purpose. On one level, it’s work, but on the other hand, feeling like a valuable player in some capacity makes an employee that much more proud and invested.

Happiness is a reward

A woman smiling at the camera next a laptop
A woman smiling at the camera next a laptop

Have there been goals met for the month or the quarter? Did a project get finished ahead of schedule? Did your team pick up an important new client?

If there’s some kind of accomplishment made or goal met—accountability, individual performance, team performance, and even punctuality are all worth rewarding—consider a fun outing. How about a luncheon? A day on the links? That shows you appreciate their efforts.

Happiness is transparency

Employee feedback is one thing, but what do you do with that information?

Is it just a whisper in the wind, or can some changes be implemented? If it’s a company-wide survey, share information. What are the successes? The challenges? What can or will be done to address those aspects that merit improvement?

Letting workers know they’re being heard and something is being done shows that you value their input and their feelings. That gets a lot of mileage.

In times of uncertainty, like a global pandemic, being forthright about the challenges of adapting to slowdowns and shutdowns—ideally, they’ll be temporary and short-term—can also breed goodwill.

Happiness is structure

Simply keeping the office or workspace kept up is a simple but smart way to go. If it’s a nicer destination, employees will be happier spending their 40 hours there each week. Make sure the place is clean. Ensure that workers have the supplies they need. Let them have a place to store their things, too. Someone who has no small space of their own, they’re not going to feel like the company values them.

Little things like providing coffee, tea, and water are small niceties that add up. Window views, live plants, and other small details are good for spirits, too.

Happiness is social

People next to one another during a sunset
People next to one another during a sunset

That doesn’t mean a boss has to be everybody’s best friend, but encouraging a bit of socialization (just a bit!) creates a greater sense of openness and can help foster workplace happiness. It also knocks down some barriers. And sometimes just enjoying the odd chuckle or a few moments of chatter can blow off a bit of steam or dust off mental cobwebs, which in turn can lead to more happiness and more productivity.

Not all cycles have to be vicious, after all…

What have you done to ensure workplace happiness? Let us know in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.