How to Create Happy & Productive Employees in a Digital World

According to a study by the University of Warwick, there is a link between happiness and productivity with researchers finding a 12% increase in productivity compared to unhappy staff who were 10% less productive.

With such a significant increase in productivity that can be attributed to happiness, companies are now keen to invest in employee support along with creating a positive work environment. So, to stand out as an employer that invests in and values its staff, how do organizations go about promoting job satisfaction?

This article explores the various ways companies can create employees that are satisfied in their roles and companies in order to not only drive productivity but help attract and retain valuable digital talent. 

Encourage Different Ways of Working

With platforms like Skype and GoMeeting, it's now simple to communicate from two different places, be that offices or countries. Remote working not only provides a more flexible work environment but helps increase productivity and job satisfaction.

In fact, employees who work remotely are 91% more productive as a result of working from home. With the demand for particular skills at an all-time high – namely digital – remote working poses a solution to finding the right talent without them having to be based where a company is, but able to work remotely to fill the gaps in the company’s workforce.

According to Adam Schwartz, Founder & CEO of fully remote company, Articulate: “Being able to choose where and when we work empowers us to be more productive, more engaged, and more balanced in every aspect of our lives. After 14 years as a remote company, we’re convinced a distributed environment isn’t just good for our employees. It’s also one of the key reasons we’ve been so successful as a company.”

Invest in Professional Development

A study found that when millennials were given two similar jobs to choose from, nearly 60% would choose the job that offered more potential for professional development above a role offering regular pay rises.

The importance of continuous development cannot be underestimated when it comes to staff retention particularly when it comes to key skills that are essential to a range of roles and need to be updated regularly. Providing relevant and up-to-date learning content that is industry aligned will allow staff to learn key skills at their own pace and apply them to their role on a continuous basis.

A great example of a company investing in employee development to soar ahead of the competition is fast food chain Chick-fil-A. With only 1,950 restaurants compared to 14,000 McDonald's outlets and 6,000 Taco Bell‘s, the company generates more revenue per restaurant than any other fast-food chain in the US due in part to its training initiatives.

Chil Fil-A image

By investing in employee training and mentorships it provides staff with the necessary skills needed to advance their careers. Chic-fil-A encourages its franchisees to ask their new hires what their career goals are and then to try to help them achieve those goals. It offers certified training classes on topics such as labor cost and food management and also provides funding for training such as marketing, to create a workforce with relevant skills that improves customer service and drive revenue. 

"I've found people are more motivated and respond better when you care about them. The better we train, the longer people stay with us." - Kevin Moss, a Chick-fil-A Manager.

Embrace Communication

If employees are kept the loop about a company's objectives and vision, it will be much easier for them to know what is expected and how they can achieve it in their role. To accomplish this, employees need to be kept informed on matters that will directly affect them such as structural changes and new strategic initiatives.

In order to instill transparency and create a sharing culture, Nokia uses social media to promote communication with its employees. Using a variety of tools including  Socialcast and Agora the company keep staff up to speed with what’s going on in the company and encourages staff to share their stories across social media networks, so people can see a glimpse of what’s going on within Nokia.

Nokia tweet

“We strive on getting to know and understanding the expectations of our employees and how we can keep them. We do so by sending lots of surveys throughout the year, and employees are encouraged to complete those surveys, to make sure they’re happy and that any concerns or doubts are expressed.” - Becky Gloyne, Social Media Manager & Global Marketing Talent Acquisition Manager, Nokia

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Offer a Wellbeing Program

What do Google, Intel, and Goldman Sachs have in common? Believe it or not, it’s a mindfulness program. In today’s fast moving and sometimes stressful work environments, companies are turning to new ways to nurture staff and increase efficiency.

As a company that admits to finding stress a challenge, Intel established the Awake@Intel program, which includes yoga and mindfulness practices. Developed with Intel employees in mind, the program was designed to meet the needs of the company’s scientists and engineers and cultivate the company’s values of innovation and risk taking.

Thousands of Intel employees have taken part in the program across the globe and its impact has been significant:

"People get more authentically related to each other – beyond competency levels and their roles. So real ideas are heard and received, and people are much more generative together. The corporate mask that people put on when they walk through the door comes down," said Anakha Comna, Consultant and Co-Founder of the program.

Invest in Flexible Learning Experiences

According to Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends study, improving careers and transforming corporate learning is the second most important trend in organizations. This upheaval has become a catalyst for change organizations across industries with 45% of executives citing this problem as urgent or very important.

The result is that learning technologies are changing rapidly as traditional systems are being complemented with and replaced by a wide range of new platforms for content curation, delivery, video distribution, and mobile use.

For Vodafone, they realized that the digital revolution had brought new challenges for staff established in their careers that had never been trained in how to use digital technologies effectively. To combat this they sought out learning content that was interactive and accessible online to train their workforce on a global scale across all markets.

Vodafone offices

By offering program content developed by the Digital Marketing Institute through its Marketing Academy platform, Vodafone enabled staff to learn new digital skills and boost existing ones to help drive the digital capabilities of its workforce.

“I haven’t seen this amount of active usage from a particular course before hosted on the Marketing Academy. The usage is incredibly high and exceeded my expectations. The scope of where it went is to 23 different markets globally with 4,000 markets accessing it,” stated Natasha Brooks, L&D Specialist at Vodafone. 

Prioritize Employee Experience

The new employer-employee contract will cater for the emergence of a much more productive and positive experience for employees. The same experience is evident in marketing and product teams who look for more than just customer satisfaction but choose to concentrate on the whole customer experience.

A number of global companies are enhancing employee experience through embedded design thinking. The redesign of employee self-service, recruitment, and onboarding applications by companies like Deutsche Telekom, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Nike, are evident examples. By focusing on a simplified and improved work lifestyle through the development of new service delivery solutions, new user experiences and mobile apps these brands are responding to the needs of their workforce.

Casual collisions are what we try and create in the work environment. You can’t schedule innovation, you can’t schedule idea generation - David Radcliffe, Google's People Operations Supervisor.

It's no longer enough to hire staff and hope they are satisfied in their jobs. Today's employees want to develop, learn and excel in their roles and future careers and look for employers that will invest in their professional development and well-being. 

Exploring these 6 ways to help keep your workforce happy will not only help reduce churn and enhance your employer brand but also lead to more productive and happy employees that boost your bottom line.  

Offer industry aligned digital qualifications
Clodagh O'Brien
Senior Content Specialist