5 Ways to Boost Happiness at Work — and Increase Productivity in the Process

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Happy employees are more productive employees. Research shows that happiness boosts productivity in the workplace by as much as 20 percent. Unhappy employees, on the other hand, are unproductive — and costly. Every year, disengaged workers cost the U.S. economy between $450-550 billion. Don't make the same mistakes as other companies. Here are five ways to boost happiness at work and increase productivity at the same time.

1. Optimize Your Office Space

Research shows a strong correlation between happiness and the layout of your office. Organized desks, plants, floor-to-ceiling windows with lots of natural light — these are just some of the design features that improve productivity in the workplace. Employees also value lots of space. Roomy offices, where staff can stand up to stretch or pace up and down while talking on the phone, provide lots of opportunities for physical activity. The design of your office should encourage interaction among employees, too — something that boosts happiness and productivity. Open-plan environments foster communication between departments and strengthen relationships, for example. "For the most part, walls are unnecessary in an office environment," says Jayson DeMers, founder of AudienceBloom. "Most offices are built with walls prioritized, and with the most important people in the space having four walls of their own. Most employees don't have walls, so they're forced to rely on artificial cubicle walls to get all their wall needs."

2. Be a More Flexible Employer

Happy employees are more engaged at work, according to countless studies. Want to improve happiness in your own workplace? Make work-life balance a priority. Thirty-eight percent of employees in the United States have missed important life events because of a busy work schedule, while 60 percent of blame bosses for having a negative impact on their work-life balance. Flexi-time, work social events, more paid leave — all of these things result in happier, more productive employees. "Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is not only important for health and relationships, but it can also improve your employee's productivity, and ultimately performance," says the Happiness Index, a tool that measures business performance. "Put simply, if your people don't view work as a chore, then they will work harder, make fewer mistakes and are more likely to become advocates for your brand."

3. Reward Your Employees

Performance appraisals provide you with an opportunity to assess the work performance of your employees. Don't just concentrate on the negative in these meetings: rewarding your employees for their hard work could increase productivity significantly. Managers who received feedback on their strengths — instead of just their weaknesses — showed 8.9 percent greater profitability, according to research. Moreover, 69 percent of employees say they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized by senior members of staff. "If you must deliver criticism, sandwich it between two compliments so your employees realize that you recognize their value," says Time magazine. "Keep feedback focused on actions, not emotions. Specific directions or suggestions to help employees improve or figure out what to do next are most helpful." Want to track the progress of your employees? I Done This provides you with daily check-ins and progress reports for more effective workplace management.

4. Improve Company Culture

Good company culture can have a positive impact on workplace happiness. As an employer, invest in workplace perks like access to gym facilities and healthcare — it could result in a major productivity boost. You can also encourage teamwork with training days and skills building activities. Want to improve employee burnout? Talk to your staff on a regular basis and ask them for feedback. Suggestions from workers about your company and its policies could help you streamline day-to-day operations and provide a better working environment for everyone at your organization. "A positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being," says the Harvard Business Review. "This, in turn, improves people's relationships with each other and amplifies their abilities and their creativity. It buffers against negative experiences such as stress, thus improving employees' ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties while bolstering their health."

5. Good Manners are Everything

Employees want to feel respected at work. Forty-seven percent of people who are treated poorly in the workplace intentionally reduce the amount of time they spend at work, while 38 percent decrease the quality of their work. Moreover, 66 percent of workers say their performance declines when an employer treats them badly. Prevent productivity problems by treating your employees with respect and dignity. "Treat people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness," says human resources expert Susan M. Heathfield, writing for The Balance. "Encourage coworkers to express opinions and ideas. Listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over, butt in or cut off another person." More than half of all Americans are unhappy in the workplace. Just over 52 percent of employees are satisfied at work — down from 61.1 percent three decades ago. It doesn't have to be this way. Follow the five steps on this list to increase happiness in the workplace and benefit from greater productivity.

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Kirk P

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Kirk P. is a freelance writer who specializes in creative, click-worthy content for businesses in various verticals, including digital marketing, technology, retail, health care, and lifestyle and travel. Kirk's work has appeared on Travelocity, Ziff Davis, StubHub, and more. His talents include SEO-optimized copy, blog posts, website pages, press releases, product descriptions, email newsletters, and Tweets and Facebook posts.

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