What Makes Employees Happy?

AUGUST 02, 2016
What do employees look like when they enter your pharmacy? Are they smiling, eager to get back to their projects? Or do their faces reveal they’re ready to clock out as soon as they walk in?
 
The extent of job satisfaction and organizational commitment depends on whether the company is meeting a variety of employee needs. These needs are summarized in a New York Times article as physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.1
 
What makes employees happy, however, varies. Individual differences theory says things like genetic or personality variances, personal preferences, and satisfaction in other aspects of life account for variability in employee job satisfaction.
 
In the end, however, everyone has similar minimum requirements for satisfaction. Variation within them isn’t an excuse to neglect efforts to keep employees happy. 
 
Great Expectations
These differences exist alongside the need for meeting employee expectations, which can include variability in tasks, opportunity for growth, and fair compensation. If employees feel like their job is mundane or a dead end, they’ll lose interest. If they aren’t being challenged with the goal to stimulate personal and career growth, they’ll be disengaged. If they feel their pay doesn’t equitably reflect their contributions, they’ll leave.
 
Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs is commonly referenced when it comes to organizational performance. Many employers now recognize if an employee’s needs aren’t met, it will adversely affect output and the organization’s bottom line.2
 
Two-factor (motivation-hygiene) theory delves a little deeper, outlining specific factors for job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Among motivators (attributes that encourage employee productivity) are recognition, achievement, and advancement. Hygiene factors (the absence of which creates a dissatisfied employee) include salary, work relationships, quality of supervision. 
 
A 2012 meta-analysis established a strong correlation between employee engagement and markers of corporate performance, including profitability, customer ratings, theft, and safety incidents.1 Other studies discovered auxiliary outcomes, concluding results like higher focus, capacity for creative thinking, productivity, or operating margins when even just one need was met.
 
Discontent employees translate to low productivity, high turnover, and an unsustainably negative company culture. Happy employees are loyal, committed workers who believe in the company’s mission and values.
 
How to Increase Job Satisfaction
Ideally, a company fosters a high hygiene or high motivation environment, ensuring high production and high employee spirits. Such an atmosphere is achieved through at least meeting employees’ physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs:
  • Offer frequent breaks. Employees who fragment their workflow display more efficient and highly focused behaviors, feeling motivated and recharged by each break. 
  • Give feedback. Supportive bosses cultivate successful employees. Recognizing efforts and achievements is key, as is constructive, actionable feedback, which can result in further successes.
  • Facilitate focus and prioritization by considering flexibility in scheduling, allowing employees to exercise control over when they work.
  • Ensure room for growth. Employees who find both challenge and meaning in their work stay committed and engaged throughout employment. 
References
1. Schwartz T, Porath C. Why You Hate Work. The New York Times. May 30, 2014. nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.html. Accessed August 1, 2016.
2. Aamodt M. Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning; 2016.


Jola Mehmeti, PharmD Candidate 2018
Jola Mehmeti, PharmD Candidate 2018
Jola Mehmeti is a final-year PharmD candidate (’18) at the UConn School of Pharmacy. She earned a B.S. in Pharmacy Studies at UConn (’15) and MBA from Sacred Heart University (’17). She is a CITI-certified researcher with investigative and work experience at a large tertiary care center in Hartford, Connecticut. Connect with her on LinkedIn or send a message to contact@jolamehmeti.com.
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