Do You Work in a Happy Environment?

Steve Ganns,, asks if your workplace is happy?The artist Pharrell Williams has a great song celebrating being “Happy”:

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

No matter how many times that song plays, and I say I’m going to get tired of it, I don’t.

One of the ways for a small business person to be successful is to create a happy work environment. Employees always tend to work harder and do more if they are happy.

First and foremost, setting up a happy environment requires trust. You must trust your workers, and they must trust you.

This can be done only by example. Your workers will watch you when you make a mistake with a client to see how you handle it. It is important to own your mistakes, apologize and create a solution, giving our employees the freedom and confidence to handle their own mistakes, if any. Because of this trust, they can come to you and say, “I messed something up. I own it, and here’s what I’m going to do to fix it.” In an unhappy environment of distrust, employees will usually avoid being honest about mistakes, which is not the way to have a successful business.

Another thing that fosters happy employees is time off. Make sure your employees take all their vacation days – and not only that! DO NOT, unless it is an extreme emergency involving life and death, call your employees while they’re on vacation. Nothing is that important. The business will survive without anybody, even the owner, for a certain period of time.

Also, conventional thinking says that everyone should have a certain number of sick days and time off. I disagree with that in small business. Again, with the underlying idea of trust, it is not in the business’ best interest to deny if someone needs to take time off to go to:

  • An afternoon doctor’s appointment;
  • A morning dentist appointment; or
  • See their child in their move up ceremony from kindergarten to 1st grade.

In the event that someone is taking advantage, you will know it without keeping a plus and minus system. If this happens, you will deal with it then.

Happy employees, nurtured in an environment of trust, do understand that sometimes there will be constructive criticism. This criticism is accepted more easily in an environment of trust and happiness.

Offer whatever benefits your company can afford, such as a small pension plan, and of course, health insurance. That is very, very important, and makes employees feel appreciated.

Lastly, I know that in this day of heightened security, many employers monitor their employees’ emails or go through their desk drawers. There are few things worse than having an employee know that you have done this. Following people around on their Facebook accounts, their social media accounts, on their emails or in their office drawers, does not lead to an environment of trust.

In your employee manual, make it clear that as an employer, you have the right to read their emails and go through office property, should the need arise. I have the right to go through all of my employees’ emails and anything they put in any drawer in this office. However, I never have. If there were a compelling reason to do it, I would, especially if it was better for all of us and the business. But in 30 years, I never have had to.

We all know that one means of business success is to get clients to trust the business. However businesses also succeed when employees trust the business, and the business trusts its employees.

Is your workplace a happy one? I hope so.

Stephen J. Ganns

Stephen J. Ganns, CPA


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