Distributed Teams Deserve to Find Happiness at Work
Shawn Murphy | September 23, 2020
Collaboration, Remote Work4 min read
Happiness in the workplace is tricky. First, agreeing on a definition of happiness is problematic in itself. Second, the remedy for unhappiness at work is open to much speculation. Does happiness even have a place at work? And do distributed teams benefit from working remotely? Or does the distance and not seeing colleagues undermine some of the advantages of working from home?
The speculation over the relevance and importance of happy employees is healthy. Speculation, however, cannot be the end of the process. We need to progress past discussions and explore real solutions that can elicit happiness.
In “normal times,” some companies may forego looking into ways to improve employee happiness. Now, however, a growing number of employees are showing signs that they are unhappy. In our recent study on distributed team trends, here’s what we learned:
57% of employees struggle with feeling isolated
52% of managers told us that they are tired from working long hours
31% of managers say they are stressed due to the impacts of working from home
34% of employees say it’s hard to focus while working
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P – Positive Emotions: happiness, kindness, optimism, for example
E – Engagement: absorbed in what you’re doing—flow
R – Relationships: connection to people who are meaningful in your life
M – Meaning: a sense of significance in what you’re doing and why
A – Accomplishments: goals and ambition in life
Then, happiness isn’t only a fleeting emotion that we experience because something such as a pay raise delights us. Happiness, at least the type that this article is focusing on, can come from within. It’s not dependent on something outside of us. It’s what we feel when we’re satisfied in the moment or with our work—in-person or remote. A more intrinsic notion of happiness comes from the pursuit of becoming a more fully functioning human being.
When employees are happy they are six times more energized
Happiness inspires loyalty. Happy employees stay with companies twice as long.
Happy employees are twice as productive
Five Happiness Solutions
What can you do to influence the happiness levels employees feel? Perhaps it goes without saying, but you can’t make someone feel happy. What you can do is shape the conditions that could help someone find happiness.
Mobility. Lindsay Witcher, Director and Practice Strategy at RiseSmart, a Randstad Company, says millennials are on to something regarding mobility. “For a while, senior leaders have been afraid of mobility because it often means upward. This is a misconception,” explains Witcher. She sees mobility as an opportunity to help your employees learn and grow. “[Organizations] are hemorrhaging talent because mobility to grow or lateral opportunities aren’t leveraged.”
Meaningful work. Today’s distributed teams want work that has significance. As a leader, focus on three-way wins. Be clear about how projects and assignments help the organization, the employee, and the customer.
Satisfaction over performance. Witcher advocates a focus on raising employee satisfaction. If satisfaction is low, so, too, is an employee’s performance. Examine the reasons for low performance. Low work satisfaction could be the cause.
A sense of belonging. We want to connect. When we feel like we belong and fit in, we reduce the focus on time-wasting thoughts like, “Are my ideas silly?” Help employees connect in virtual, in-person, or a hybrid of the two.
These five solutions are just a handful to get you started in your workplace. Other examples include offering health and wellness solutions, creating a positive workplace and culture, and having financially fair practices when it comes to pay.
While happiness can be a tricky work reality to address, the benefits far outweigh the cost—in emotional stress, time, and money when it’s done effectively.
Great leaders inspire happy employees. Get these tips to help you lead your remote teams.
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About the Author
Director of Organizational Behavior, Bluescape
Shawn is our Director of Organizational Behavior and Workplace Trends. His second book, Work Tribes is out now. Shawn's first book, The Optimistic Workplace is out now. Inc. has listed him twice as one of the top leadership speakers in America.
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