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Susan M. Heathfield

Are Your Employees Happy at Work?

By March 10, 2014

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Think being happy at work is a nice thing? You'd be very wrong. Happy employees are essential to the well being of your business.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been polling over 1,000 adults every day since January 2008, shows that Americans now feel worse about their jobs -- and work environments -- than ever before. People of all ages, and across income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations and detached from what they do.

Additionally, Gallup estimates that because workers are not engaged, American businesses lose $300 billion in productivity each year.

What Employees Want

Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, authors of The Progress Principle (compare prices), studied 12,000 electronic diary entries from 238 professionals in seven companies. They discovered that the most important factor in happiness at work was "making progress in meaningful work."

The same authors studied managers to determine what managers thought was motivational for employees. 95% of the managers put making progress last. So there is a basic disconnect between what managers think is meaningful for employees and what employees believe creates their happiness at work.

How Managers Can Motivate

The authors conclude that managers who listen to the problems that employees experience, help solve problems, and remove barriers so that the employees feel like they are making meaningful progress, are more likely to have happy employees. And, if Gallup's studies are to be believed, having happy employees will magnify the success of your business - beyond calculation.

The writings on this website, too, make these points repeatedly. It's affirming to have these authors saying the same thing. When will managers get it?

Image Copyright Mark Hall / Getty Images

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