How to create a feeling of love between employer and employee beyond Valentine’s Day

By Kleopatra Kivrakidou, Channel Marketing Manager at Ergotron


“There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved”. Always a popular quote around this time of year, what with Valentine’s Day not long over. This saying probably wouldn’t be out of place in the modern working environment, where happiness at work is an increasingly ‘hot’ topic. According to Benefits Pro Magazine, over 50% of employees in the US now place more importance on workplace happiness than they do on salary. With trends from the practical, such as bike to work schemes, to the slightly more outlandish, like slides in the office (Google’s handiwork), workplace contentment has become fashionable. Organisations are using this to create a brand, or reputation, for being cool, supportive employers. But the stakes are much higher and burrow much deeper than just a bit of fun and relaxation in the office. In a recent report, Gallup found that more than half of employees are open to new opportunities, largely pre-empted by feelings of discontent. The promise of workplace happiness has therefore clearly become a key contender for prospective employees when job-hunting.


As with all strong relationships, the one that exists between employee and employer should be founded on trust. Employees who trust their employer are happier and therefore more likely to stay in their role for longer. So, how can businesses attract employees, and, more importantly, retain them through caring for them properly?


The first step is to consider what employees are actually looking for. Benefits such as slides or free lunches tend not to offer anything more substantial than a fleeting moment of satisfaction which, as Greater Good Magazine rightly points out, cannot constitute for long-term happiness. Happiness must be defined as more an overarching richness of life, where you experience a mixture of emotions, from contentment to anger, all while maintaining a sense of purpose. Businesses should be taking this psychology into consideration when brainstorming new initiatives and schemes to achieve happiness at work. One way of looking at this is to think about the four keys to happiness: purpose, engagement, resilience, and kindness. Each of these components can be promoted via different training, design and cultural choices that will have longer term benefits as a result.


The second step is to consider the environment in which we work, which directly affects our mood and attitude towards work. Since the introduction in recent years of more flexible working patterns, the traditional office environment has come under scrutiny. According to Gallup, 37% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them the ability to work where they want at least part of the time, as they search to find a healthy work-life balance and a working environment in which they are trusted. In correlation with society’s improved understanding of mental health, so too do concerns over poor mental health and stress levels. Having the choice to work where you want, when you want, can be an important factor to consider in alleviating pressures. A long commute, for example, can be very stressful for employees.


Office spaces themselves must become more flexible to better align with these kinds of changes.  Many companies are investing in ergonomic principles and furniture as a route to achieving this. Focussing on the individual ergonomic principles of comfort, safety, efficiency and productivity can help businesses analyse their office environment objectively in order to see what changes need to be made. The four core values of ergonomics run much deeper than an offer of a free sandwich – and are very closely linked to the four keys to happiness mentioned earlier.


These principles come to the fore with ergonomic products, such as sit-to-stand desks and adjustable monitor arms, which are flexible to employees’ needs and can help boost productivity and keep workers engaged for longer. When comfort levels are increased, it becomes easier to build up physical resilience. And perhaps most importantly, movement-friendly furniture is kind to mental and physical well-being. Encouraging a deeper sense of happiness at work leads not just to improved overall health, but also productivity and ultimately career advancement, all of which are truly in the interests of both the business and employee.


The workforce continues to shape and shift as older generations leave it and millennials and Generation-Z enter it, and the same is true of attitudes towards work. Companies who are not currently striving to create a level of trust and respect between employer and employee when it comes to flexibility in the workplace will soon get left behind. What better reminder than the day of love itself for businesses to think about what matters most to their employees?

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