Get your employees smiling on the International Day of Happiness.
Working in the “lucky” country isn't providing much joy for a growing number of Australian employees – now almost one in every two and climbing – who report workplace issues as a source of personal stress.
So what can workplaces do to raise the Australian input towards global well-being on March 20, the United Nations International Day of Happiness? And why would they bother?
In short, potential productivity gains from making these relatively simple changes is estimated to be worth $26,300 per Australian employee.
At a time when most Australian organisations are asking employees to do more with less, the irony is Australian workers estimate they could be up to 85 per cent more productive if management would make simple changes to improve well-being, motivation, recognition and reward.
To put this in perspective: In return for making workers feel bosses genuinely care about and value them, economists believe this could help Australia deliver $305 billion more in productivity.
This isn't about spending, or paying people more money.
It's about the fact only half the workforce feels appreciated and one-third do not believe their leaders try to help them perform at their best. This is about the real costs – financial, psychological and physical – that come with the fact that 63 per cent of Australian middle managers rate their own leadership skills as average or below.
So for leaders on International Day of Happiness, take a few minutes and practise one or more of these tested, practical acts of positive leadership:
Understand the power of mood on performance
It takes just seven minutes for a leader's mood to infect the rest of their team. Given 20-30 per cent of business performance is determined by the mood of employees, do you have the right balance of positive and negative emotions? Try the free survey to check.
Focus your energy on strengths
Two-thirds of employees have no idea what their strengths are – the things they like doing and are good at. Yet focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses has been found to improve engagement by up to six times, resulting in lower turnover, improved productivity and happier customers. Do you know what your team's strengths are? Try the free survey.
Take a micro-moment to invest in relationships
Each time we genuinely connect with another person, the pleasure-inducing hormone oxytocin is released into the bloodstream, helping to reduce anxiety and improves concentration and focus. Scientists have discovered it takes just a micro-moment to connect by: sharing a positive emotion such as kindness, gratitude or amusement; making eye contact or matching vocal tones to synchronise your brain activity; and then investing in the feelings of mutual care that rise up.
Get clear on your purpose
Leadership researcher Simon Sinek notes: “You can run a company, but you can only lead people.” So how would you finish this sentence: everything I do is to ___________, so that ___________. Would others be motivated to follow you there?
Eighty-nine per cent of people believe tomorrow will be better than today, but only 50 per cent believe they can make it so. The gap is the difference between wishing and hope, and - all other things being equal - a 14 per cent improvement in productivity. Have you set “want to” goals for your people, mapped the pathways forward, planned for the obstacles and ensured you have what it takes to maintain the willpower of you and your team to get the results you desire?
With potential productivity gains for these simple changes estimated to be worth $26,300 per Australian employee, these no-cost actions should be something any business leader should be able to get happy about.
For more on how to be a Positive Leader join the International Day of Happiness Virtual Conference taking place on March 20, 2014 – sign up for free here.
Michelle McQuaid is an author and educator. She has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology and is currently completing her PhD in Appreciative Inquiry.