The small business owner's guide to workplace happiness

Kate Jones
@kateljnes

Creating an inspired workplace is about more than installing a communal coffee machine and organising Friday night work drinks. Today’s startups are upping the ante on workplace happiness with unorthodox initiatives to increase employee engagement.

It comes as statistics show one in three Australians are unhappy in their jobs. In a survey of 1300 people by pac executive Human Capital, 32 per cent reported feeling unfulfilled in their roles.

The study revealed a clear link between workplace happiness and productivity with unhappy employees 31 per cent more likely to have little direction from management and 17 per cent more likely to attend unnecessary meetings.

Ensuring employees feel appreciated is the secret to a happy, healthy business, says Justin Dry, chief executive of wine site Vinomofo.

“If managers don’t invest time in rewarding staff there may be an assumption work is not being valued and staff become disengaged,” he says.

If managers don’t invest time in rewarding staff there may be an assumption work is not being valued and staff become disengaged.

“Reward and recognition is essential. It’s a fundamental human need to be acknowledged and validated; we all want to belong and contribute to something greater than ourselves.”

Dry’s company has introduced workplace programs aimed at motivating employees while also giving them the chance to make a difference. Their Pet Rescue Workplace Foster Care Program matches employees with homeless cats and dogs in an initiative that benefits the animals as well as the workers. If successful, the pet finds a new home while the employee reaps the rewards of a pet-friendly workplace – decreased stress levels and better staff morale.

The 80 staff can also participate in a company sports team, regular wine tasting events and a health and wellness program to learn mindfulness strategies.

It takes time to learn what your staff truly need and you need to care enough to really listen.

On average, Vinomofo employees spend three hours every week on team-building activities, says Dry.

“One of our core values is to have fun,” he says.

“It’s essential and we believe that if we’re not having fun, we’re not doing it right.”

To find the right way to keep your staff engaged, Dry says start by listening.

“It takes time to learn what your staff truly need and you need to care enough to really listen,” he says.

“It could be a financial reward, an experience, verbal acknowledgement - public or private, it really depends on the individual and managers should know what is important for each of their staff members.”

Kate Jones

Kate Jones writes for the business and money sections of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She also writes for The New Daily, TAC, RMIT and is a news writing tutor at Monash University.

PARTNER CONTENT
How to maximise the freedom and flexibility of your business

Technological acceleration has seen business owners aim to combine a versatile lifestyle with their professional ambitions.

×