Keeping workers happy is the key to business success, says British consultant Henry Stewart, who is in Australia to show how it can be done in four steps. While people work best when they are appreciated and feel good about themselves, this simple philosophy is not a focus for most companies. Stewart, chief executive of the British consultancy Happy Ltd, is advising Australian telco Macquarie how to retain in-demand IT workers through better management. He says Google in Australia and British retailer John Lewis are among the few companies that have grasped the importance of keeping their employees happy.
"At their last board meeting, John Lewis spent half an hour discussing the numbers and three hours discussing people and how to motivate and value them," he said. "I am trying to encourage that shift from focusing on the financials to focusing on how you make people feel good. "Google is absolutely clear that a key focus is keeping people happy."
Stewart said most companies concentrate on the bottom line, "but how to get that bottom line is through your people. People work best when they are trusted," he said. "People don't like being micromanaged. Trust people – judge them on what they produce and not on the time they spend on things."
Research from the department of economics at the University of Warwick has found that happiness made people around 12 per cent more productive. The London Business School has also published research linking employee satisfaction with business success. Macquarie Telecom executive Luke Clifton said the company wanted its managers to focus on the happiness of its employees to reduce attrition, and not just on deadlines and tasks. "Like a lot of businesses in IT, we think our attrition is slightly too high. The way to address that is through happiness and engagement," Clifton said.
Stewart recommends four key strategies to making workers happy: Read them on SMH.com.AU