Happy workers make difference in business success

There is so much talk nowadays about people feeling fulfilled at work. Everywhere you turn, there is a book, article, news clip, or psychologist talking about this. Are you tired of it? If you’re not, keep reading. If you are, please keep reading.

I’ve been curious about work since I was an itty-bitty kid where, after the usual obligatory introductions, I would ask my parents friends, “What do you do? Why do you do it? Why would you do something you don’t like?” (at which point I was ushered out of the room).  So, naturally, I ended up getting a degree in a field that had nothing to do with this — computers. After 12 years being someone I was not, I finally made a switch, and now, I spend all my time thinking about why people do what they do because it’s my job. I’ve worked with thousands of people, from all walks of life and in every imaginable capacity, about their jobs. And here’s what I’ve learned:

No one benefits from unhappy employees. It matters that people are fulfilled. And there’s a solid bottom line reason for it too.  Unhappy people don’t give it their all — they are not great with customers, are difficult to manage, barely meet goals and are rarely excited about finding ways to make the company more money.  Happy employees give it their all, and yet, why do we roll our eyes at our Millennials or the iGen workers who demand this? Why do we say, “Those people should just be happy they have a job”?

And so I introduce my new column for BizWest, which will appear occasionally about all things work and career — how you can be happier and how your employees can be too.

To begin, having happy, engaged workers requires that we, as leaders, are present in their lives and that we do a variety of activities to support them.  Using the right management style at the right time eliminates them feeling either confused, micromanaged or bored.  Managing conflict and emotions in a dignified way helps people not hate their team or you. Everyone wants to know they are doing something of value, so we have to keep them on track with goals. Lastly, we should hire people who are a culture-add, not just a culture-fit.  Managing people is a complex experience that requires that we have a lot of tools in our manager toolbox.  Do you have a full toolbox or do you have a scant one?

My experience in the Colorado market (which, is the worst place to work in the country according to Indeed), tells me that your toolbox is almost empty. We get most of our leads to the term “I hate my job”, and if you ask your friends and family, you’ll find that very few people really love what they’re doing. The number 1 reason that someone hates a job is that they don’t feel cared for, and who cares for us at work? Our manager. If you don’t know how to do this — be a good manager — you are creating unhappy workers, and I know your company is not going to survive. I can tell within a few interactions if a company is going to survive.  There’s a feeling of joy in the lobby — people interact with me in a helpful way, and as I walk around, there’s curiosity about who I am. I see employees being playful with each other, and I also see measurements and metrics that help keep everyone on track.  The leaders are self-aware and not afraid to admit a weakness to themselves or their teams. 

Is that your company? Does that describe you?

I know you can become this. You can learn how to be a great manager and be someone who your team feels inspired to be around.

Help people love their jobs. Everyone will win.

Kendra Prospero is the CEO and founder of Turning the Corner, a Boulder-based organization that recruits for job seekers and companies.


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