5 Ways Financial Managers Can Promote Workplace Happiness

By Robert Half on January 16, 2017 at 6:33am

When was the last time you made an effort to improve the workplace happiness of your finance team? Happy employees are good for business. They are more engaged, loyal and productive. It's an area finance managers shouldn’t neglect. In fact, they have room for improvement, according to a new Robert Half report and e-book, IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.™ Canadian and American accounting, financial services, and finance professionals scored fairly low in their levels of workplace happiness, compared with employees in other fields.

Happiness comes from more than providing a foosball table in the lobby, collaborating with a colleague on a successful project or doling out bonuses. And you don’t have to break the bank to make it happen.

Learn more about the anatomy of a happy employee in the infographic, below.

 Here are five of my favorite tips finance managers can use to improve workplace happiness and make their teams feel appreciated:

1. Put it in writing

handwritten thank-you to your direct reports, colleagues or boss can be more meaningful than an email. Such an effort requires some stationery, a little extra time to craft and deliver, but is often appreciated by the recipient. Employers need to promote a positive culture that includes recognition and feeling appreciated to attract and retain great people.

“Fostering positive emotions through gratitude is easy and powerful,” says Dr. Christine Carter, author and senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. “The science on this is blazingly clear. There are loads of research studies that show how much higher functioning people are when they feel appreciated by their teams and their manager.”

Takeaway: Feeling appreciated is the biggest driver of workplace happiness for accounting professionals, according to the report.

2. Conduct a teambuilding event

It could be a friendly Academy Awards or March Madness competition, an off-site volunteer event, or ropes course. Such activities can help staff learn more about their coworkers and boost morale in the workplace. Make sure it’s presented as optional or that there’s something for everyone; not everyone may be a movie buff or sports fan.

Takeaway: Workers who have a sense of camaraderie at work are 2.5 times more likely to be happy on the job than those who do not get along well with colleagues.

3. Have a party

Celebrating coworkers’ milestones – such as birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers or good work – can build comradery and bring employees together, especially if it’s for a good cause. Be clear that contributions are voluntary, and remember that happiness comes from more than just a free lunch or annual holiday party. If people don’t feel valued by your firm, these perks won’t make much of a difference.

“The key for managers is to express gratitude and to be really specific about the particular effort the employee made,” Carter says, “because that’s when people feel seen and recognized.”

Takeaway: Eighty-nine per cent of managers in another Robert Half survey said their organization is good at showing appreciation to employees, while 30 per cent of employees gave their firm low marks for it.

4. Ask for inspiration

There’s no secret ingredient to increasing happiness levels in the office. What works for a small accounting firm might not fly at a larger organization. Sure, you have to pay people well, but creating a great place to work where employees have pride in what they do begins with you.

Unless you’re a mind reader, you’ll never know what instills pride and motivation in your employees, until you ask. Then, follow through. Follow-up on that feedback and empower your employees to create a better workplace.

Takeaway: Salary benchmarks for finance and accounting positions in your city are available with Robert Half's Salary Calculator.

5. Give them a sense of empowerment

Engaging your staff by giving them a chance to make decisions on their own, or with minimal direction, improves workplace happiness by making them feel more valued. Let them flex their creative muscles and influence important decisions in their jobs.

Takeaway: Only 47 per cent of women in the happiness research say they exert influence on the job, compared to 55 per cent of men who say the same. At large companies, 35 per cent of workers say they have influence.

As Todd Henry, founder of Accidental Creative and contributor to the Robert Half report, says, “People are most invested in their work when they feel like they are part of something larger than themselves.”

Most studies show that happiness positively impacts the quality and quantity of work — and when you make employee happiness one of your top organizational priorities, it’s good for your business.

If you’re still not sure where to start to give your finance team a happiness boost, get the research and find out how to build a better workforce, one job at a time. 

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