Most of us know that our personalities are different at work. Stepping into the office involves leaving some of our quirks and characteristics at the door. But why? It might not seem like a big deal, but by changing your personality when you go to work there is a good chance that you are limiting your potential and your workplace happiness.
We often fear that our true personalities will involve character traits that might put people off. Mood swings that might disrupt work. Habits that make us seem unusual or strange to our co-workers. The office shouldn’t be a place where employees can act as if they were in their own home, but it needs to be a place where employees can be themselves.
As an employer, one of your goals should be to create a workplace where your employees feel comfortable just being themselves. This doesn’t mean that anything goes, but encouraging comfort will empower your employees and bring the best out of them. You can’t afford to think that employee engagement is just a buzzword, it will ultimately affect your bottom-line.
Harvard and MIT researchers have found that happy employees are 31% more productive and 55% more creative. Their research found that, overall, disengaged employees had 37% higher absenteeism and made 60% more errors. Research carried out by the University of Warwick found that happier employees made more attempts to find solutions to problems and were more likely to find the correct answer. The chart below shows that employees who had their mood improved (those coded as treated) completed more work and were more likely to try to resolve problems that they encountered.
Employee happiness will have a real impact on performance, and small changes to workplaces practices, policies, and programs can make a huge difference to how happy and comfortable employees feel.
Here are a few examples of practices that have been shown to make employees feel more at ease and improve overall happiness at work:
- Define corporate values. Set clear rules as to what is and isn’t acceptable. This might appear counterintuitive to encouraging employees to be themselves, but by laying out what isn’t allowed, you’ll make them feel more comfortable and allow them to express themselves within those clear guidelines.
- Flexible working hours and the ability to work from home. Your employees have lives too. Their happiness and focus will be affected when they feel like their work is taking over their life and stopping them from accomplishing other things. Allow them to shape their work around their life and vice versa.
- Office space dedicated to non-work activities. Give your employees areas where they can relax, take a break, and take their minds off work for a minute. Doing so will allow them to interact more freely, develop better work relationships, and more easily show aspects of their out-of-office personality.
- Put in place an initiative that allows them to express themselves freely without any fear of repercussions. Employees often have ideas about how work could be improved, but don’t feel that it is their place to say something. Seniority, group dynamics, or simple shyness might stop them from expressing themselves. Put in place a system where your employees feel that they can share ideas and help to solve problems.
Using some of these practices can not only help to improve workplace happiness, but it will also improve performance. Happier employees are more engaged employees. When employees aren’t engaged, it will cost your company money.
Flexible working hours or the ability to work from home will allow your employees to improve their work-life balance. Office spaces dedicated to non-work activities will help your employees to feel more comfortable and at ease. An initiative where your employees can share ideas will encourage the sharing of best practices, the exchange of knowledge, and help you to find solutions to difficult problems. Is your company doing enough to encourage employees to be themselves?