I see so much in organizations today, leaders pouring precious resources designed to make employees happy presuming that happy employees translate to organizational effectiveness. Stop Right There! There’s no research whatsoever that shows a positive correlation between happy employees and organizational performance; not even individual employee performance. Do we really think that workers are happy as a result of being challenged and pushed? There is a segment of employees at every workplace that coast and compensate for arriving late by leaving early! Ponder for a moment, what factors constitute a person’s happiness. Yes, there are similarities among all of us in the human race, but there are serious differences, as well. In fact, some people are happy at work because they’re not being challenged, their boss is never around and they get to do what they want when they want. Appalling, I know but it exists.
On the other hand, workers are more engaged if the organization is successful. Yes, it’s not inputs (happiness) influencing outcomes (performance), but outcomes (success) influencing inputs (engagement). Be clear, engagement, satisfaction and happiness are not the same thing; not at all.
Of course, I don’t advocate trying to make employees unhappy assuming their more productive. That’s insane. I often advise leaders and partner with organizational members in crafting more compelling and clear outcomes that should be re-engineered back to each employee’s role and when that linkage is fortified, employee engagement will increase and engagement is the key factor behind lowering regrettable turnover. Regrettable turnover is the monitoring of those employees who leave your organization that you would have preferred they stay. Tracking and reporting organizational turnover is entirely worthless because are we to presume high turnover is bad and low turnover is good? Let’s face it, it’s not always a bad thing and in fact, sometimes a positive occurrence, when employees depart an organization.
So, pause before you get pulled into another in a series of discussions and meetings about trying to make employees happy by asking more questions and instead help your work group pivot to employee engagement. Let’s continue our journey in getting better all the time.