By Katerina Andreou
The employer-employee relationship can be said to be transactional and a mutual investment. Corporate words and very clinical. Or are they? Like any relationship, for success there absolutely needs to be happiness on both sides. Happiness, most would say, is the definition of success.
It should be that simple but again, as in most relationships, it is often fraught with other variables and contrasting expectations or agendas. We often think of our employer or employees in terms of a role or job but rarely as a relationship. In fact, it is one of the key defining relationships in our lives. Whether it’s the all-important first job or the final one prior to retirement, our experience with a company will shape our careers, our view of ourselves as professionals and more directly and simply: what we bring home at the end of the month.
This relationship is one around which our livelihoods, often our self esteem and our families are directly impacted. As an employer, the salary and conditions you offer will dictate to which schools an employee will send their kids, even to which university. Employers have a responsibility and wonderful opportunity to positively influence their communities and the families they employ.
If we consider that a third of our lives are spent at work, you would think this crucial relationship and the inevitable effect it has on our happiness would be so obvious that we wouldn’t still be writing about it. But writing about it we are as it seems many businesses are apt to forget this simple but game changing formula: happy employees = business success = happiness. How much better would you or do you feel as an employer to end your day knowing your employees want to work for you, are out there speaking about you with respect and gratitude?
Whatever your industry, your employees are your front-line representation of all that you are. They are free PR and advertising, your best slogans. They are your ambassadors and they are the essential cog in the wheel that runs through all business environments and binds everything together.
They say you can hear a smile on the telephone and it’s true. We form impressions and emotions about places and businesses by the contact we have with its people. Employees that are satisfied and happy at work will interact with customers in a way that fosters trust and assurance that a company is solid and caring. Their physical presentation will be relaxed, engaging and concerned.
Toxic environments are filled with tension and anxiety. These environments where employees do not feel heard or work under illegal or unfair conditions will perpetuate an endless human conveyor belt that is high employee turnover. From the emotional to the economics – there is a direct financial cost to the company every time an employee leaves and recruitment begins and then a new hire is to be processed. It is a false economy not to invest in employee happiness.
Your customers will notice if the person they are dealing with changes every month. Impressions are formed. In the long run, repeat business will directly be affected by high turnover which in turn will affect annual sales and production.
Employers that seek to nurture work places that stand for development and mutual respect will ensure they have employees who are invested in the company’s success. Your success will be theirs. To ignore this is to invite a host of passive aggressive behaviours and essentially internal sabotage. The dissatisfied, often bitter employee will resort to other means, anything within their reach to bite back, to feel as though they have some control. Because every day they are reminded they have none.
Working in recruitment means we hear from both sides of the fence on a daily basis. The key contrast is the employers who are complaining about finding ‘good people’ are also the ones who are unwilling to make solid moves or changes to recognise and invest in their people, who want to offer low salaries for a job role that is really three people rolled into one. Or rely on people’s willingness to work long hours of unpaid overtime to ‘prove’ their dedication to the company. Indeed a cheap labour solution. But a short-sighted one.
When asked the reason for wanting to leave their current job, it should be no surprise that literally on a daily basis the majority of candidates, at all levels, will answer: for a happier work place.
Not money, not titles, not promotion. Happiness.
Katerina Andreou is the founder of Nicosia-based HR Innovate www.hrinnovate.org