Even in a tight economy, job satisfaction isn’t a luxury; fulfilled, happy employees are productive, innovative, and loyal. And workplace fulfillment spills over into happier families and better communities. Jim Donovan is a small-business owner, consultant, and speaker who has worked with employees and employers for twenty-five years. We hope you'll enjoy this short interview with him about his new book, Happy @ Work.
Why should companies care if people are happy or not?
Some bosses might think, “Why should we care if our employees are happy? After all, we’re paying them to be here. Isn’t that enough?” On the surface it would seem so; however, recent studies have found that happy people are more productive and companies with an abundance of happy employees earn more money. If you think about that, it’s fairly obvious. If I’m happy at work, I’m more engaged and productive. Everyone wins. That’s why many companies are finding ways to increase employee engagement and satisfaction.
Why should it matter to me whether I’m happy at work or not?
News flash — it’s your life! Think about it. Why would you not want to find ways to feel better at work? You’re spending forty to sixty hours a week at your job. Whether you’re halfway up the “ladder of success” or just starting out in what might be considered a menial position, you owe it to yourself to find ways to feel good about your work.
What are the top three things employees can do today to manage time better?
First, and most important, stop telling yourself you never have enough time. This habit, shared by all too many people, is one of the most self-defeating things you can do. Remember, the universe will deliver to you whatever you affirm to be true. Start telling yourself you always have plenty of time, and watch as time seems to expand to meet your needs.
Next, make a point of writing a list of the three to five most important things you have to do, and do nothing else until they’re addressed.
Last, do your most daunting task first. This idea, from the book Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, suggests that by doing your most difficult task first, you’ll gain the momentum to take on the rest.
Why is it important to reward yourself and others in the workplace?
We do things for one of two reasons: to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. These are the two underlying forces behind all of our motivations. While business has tried using the pain side of the equation — “do this or you’re fired” — to motivate employees, today that approach does not work, especially not with younger generations. Threaten to fire a Millennial and you’re likely to see the back of him or her. Pleasure motivators like rewards not only work significantly better but they’re more enjoyable. Sales organizations have known this for decades, but the concept can be used by anyone, even to motivate yourself. Setting up a simple reward system for you and your team can make even the dullest tasks fun.
How can you put your problems to work for you?
People tend to avoid dealing with problems whenever possible. What you’re viewing as a problem, however, may very well be your greatest opportunity. When I woke up in a hospital ward, broken in every way, I thought my life was over. Little did I know that the life I live today was just beginning. What I first perceived as a problem was to become my greatest opportunity.
Here’s a tip to help you view problems differently: change the word problem to challenge. We tend to avoid problems, but we step up to challenges. I developed this habit more than twenty years ago, and it has served me well.
Why do employees need to set and achieve goals?
Not setting goals for your life and career is, to me, akin to going to the airport with no destination in mind. No one in their right mind would consider doing that, yet it’s what most people do with their most valuable asset — their life. If you do not have a plan for your life, you’ll find yourself joining that sad group of people living lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau so aptly put it.
Setting big, exciting goals challenges you to tap into your true potential and stretches you to become the person you are destined to become. Setting big goals for your career will pull you toward your success. Goals give you a way to measure your progress and serve as a guide to help you stay on track. Knowing you’re moving toward a goal that is important to you will serve as motivation to help you through the mundane parts of any success journey. Goals give you reasons to jump out of bed each day, excited to get going.
Why do such a small percentage of people set goals?
We’re not taught to set goals, unless of course we were fortunate enough to be introduced to goal setting by a parent, a friend, or a self-help book. Some people I’ve met over the years avoid setting goals because they’re afraid to fail. I can assure you that you will not ever accomplish a goal you didn’t set. Does this mean you will always reach your goals? Of course not, but you will be far better off than if you had not set the goal in the first place.