5 Ways to Boost Happiness & Decrease Employee Turnover

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According to the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index, an estimated $300 billion per year is being lost in productivity as a direct result from employee unhappiness. The Well-Being Index data shows that Americans are increasingly unhappy with their jobs and work environments.  Salary.com surveyed 1,300 people to find out how they felt about their job, asking: Are you happy at your current job? Overall 69% said they were unhappy in their current position. 56% of these respondents also admitted they were planning on actively looking for a new job.

Long story short, unhappy employees are less productive, produce lower quality work, and are much more likely to ultimately leave their position. Employee happiness and engagement can make a huge difference in the overall success of a company. Successful companies almost always have happy employees who stay at the organization and make major contributions during their long tenure. In contrast, it is very difficult to achieve growth with unhappy employees, who tend to have high turnover, creating significant costs, and taking knowledge, skills, and connections with them as they depart. 

As a manager, how can you facilitate employee happiness, decrease turnover and contribute to the overall success of your organization? Most times creating a happy work environment is a small investment with exponential results. A manager’s willingness to have open communication, provide productive feedback and help employees set meaningful attainable goals link directly back to happiness and engagement. Let’s look at 5 ways you can work to create a happy, healthy work environment for yourself and those around you.


1. Effective Communication 

Effective communication is essential to employee engagement, professional development, and trust building. Trusting, positive work relationships equal happier employees. As a manager, how do you facilitate this effective communication?

Managers should work to create a culture of open communication. Interpersonal communication in the office should be dynamic, meaning both parties are active participants. Employees should be encouraged to share their ideas and concerns, both positive and negative ones. This shows their opinion is heard and valued. When employees feel a sense of value and belonging, it can be the main difference in showing up and doing the minimal effort for a paycheck, versus someone who sees their success as contributing to the overall good.

Effective communicators also aim to be clear and concise, know how to manage their nonverbal communication and are attentive listeners. Mastering essential skills of communication is key to creating a happy work environment.


2. Providing Productive Feedback 

Most employees want to hear feedback on the work they’ve done, and strive to improve their workplace performance. Providing high-quality performance feedback to your team members gives them the information they need to be successful. When employees are passionate about their success, it keeps them excited about the projects they are working on.

As a manager, you are aware of your team members’ performance, and uniquely positioned to provide effective feedback. You must be able to establish a process that helps improve workplace performance while maintaining strong relationships within the team. This can be done through one on one meetings or during formal performance reviews.

Offering praise on a regular basis when things go right and positive constructive criticism when they don’t helps employees gain confidence. And confidence equals happier, more productive employees. Employees that don’t feel valued will likely be searching for a new job at the beginning of the year.


3. Setting Performance Goals 

Team success and happiness also relies on a manager’s ability to motivate employees by helping them set performance goals. Good goal planning motivates team members by helping them see how their efforts make a real difference for the larger good of the organization. This builds a sense of community and belonging. 

By focusing on logical processes and reasonable commitments, Developing Performance Goals & Standards enables managers to outline clear work standards and encourage better job performance. Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-framed) approach with team members, managers are able to demonstrate their commitment to an open and consistent performance improvement process and effectively motivate team members.

When employees clearly understand their performance goals and how they relate to the larger goals of the company, they become more engaged with their work, committed to the success of the organization and (you guessed it)… happier!


4. Creating a Positive Culture

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Another major component to employee happiness is creating a positive office culture. A research study conducted by Emma Seppala, Ph.D and Kim Cameron, Ph.D found the qualities of a positive work culture boiled down to six main components:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

As manager, keeping these factors top of mind, practicing them daily and providing a positive example of these in your own work ethic will set the bar for all your team members to act this way.


5. Promote the Power of Positive Thinking 

Attitude is an important part of happiness and contributes to our overall quality of life. The power of positive thinking can play a major role in our daily happiness. Professor Barbara Fredrickson, a social psychologist from the University of North Carolina has studied human emotions for over 25 years. Her research shows a positive mindset helps produce emotions such as joy, amusement, happiness, serenity, gratitude and inspiration.

As a manager, can you think of ways to help employees boost their own happiness? What activities can you suggest to promote a positive mindset? Below are a few suggestions:

  • Encourage social connections; Facilitate friendships
  • Break up the daily routine by putting together team lunches or short team building activities
  • Promote good health and wellness
  • Suggest stress management tips such as meditation 
  • Create an atmosphere of growth
  • Give small perks or gestures of appreciation
  • Celebrate goal achievement and milestones



According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, people spend 8.8 hours each day working. We spend a large portion of our lives at work! This is why it is so important for businesses to prioritize employee engagement, happiness and fulfillment.

A recent study conducted by the University of Warwick found employee happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity. It’s pretty simple really, happy employees are more productive, overall company culture is improved and employee turnover is decreased. If you would like to learn more about increasing employee happiness and decreasing employee turnover, please download our free white paper. This guide will walk you through how to select and retain key team members, reducing employee turnover issues and creating an overall positive work environment for your organization.  

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