Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / JUL. 04, 2014
version 7, draft 7

How to Judge if your Staff are Happy or Not

Let's be honest, we've all been unhappy in our workplaces on several occasions. Even the jobs that are supposed to give us total satisfaction always come with unhappy surprises once in a while. However, in a bid to maintain our level of professionalism, we hide our anger by faking smiles and talk about how everything's okay. Ironically, when we're happy, we want to share our joys even with our workplace enemies. The real task of determining the staff's mood however comes when you're the boss. Because unlike the rest of the subordinate staff, you're confined to your own office space and thus you don't really get the ground feel of staff matters. And at times, as a boss, you simply want to know if your staff are happy or not to ensure smooth flow of company internal affairs. The question is, how do you judge this?

#1 Monitor Level of Patience, Tolerance and Irritability through Actions and Decisions
Interaction is an inevitable experience in the workplace, whether it is with staff or with clientèle. The difference however comes with the tolerance we have towards them.

  • Happy staff - Likely to ignore annoying gestures and stay professional in action and decision making despite obvious intentions by the irritable party to bring out the worst in them. That's because they're willing to defend their genuine happiness by not fighting back and maintaining the peace within.
  • Unhappy Staff - Has little tolerance left within them and you'll find that irritable situations present the perfect opportunity for them to unleash their pent up anger which negatively affects the sobriety needed to make responsible decisions and take professional action. This should definitely send warning signals for you as the boss to do something before the situation gets out of control.

#2 Check their Job Effectiveness through Work Attendance and Performance Sheets
Every company has its own standard work attendance and performance requirements that have to be met by staff. This is measured through various parameters such as time dedication, work intensity, work output, company sales and so forth. Most of these measurements are recorded for quality purposes to determine perks and salaries.

  • Happy Staff - Consistency in maintenance of these standards indicates that staff are happy from a general perspective. (General because we also have situations in which unhappy staff maintain these standards out of desperation because they have no other job option available at their disposal.)
  • Unhappy Staff - Overall work performance is dwindling. Classic indication that workers are on a go slow and they're disgruntled about an issue that you've been ignoring for a while now. It would thus be wise to rectify the situation lest the worker's impatience runs out and a full scale strike commences.

#3 Listen to their conversations outside work premises
In the presence of a boss, a disgruntled employee is least likely to give an honest opinion about his/her job. A lot of conversation regarding employee dissatisfaction is likely to happen behind your back.

  • Word of Caution - Avoid hiring spies to monitor the rest of the staff since they would suffer the wrath of snitching once smoked out.
  • How to Listen to Conversations Behind your Back - Win the loyalty and honesty of noble staff through sound leadership and management. Unlike a spy, a noble staff member is likely to feed you with real facts devoid of hype. You'll be given real updates by staff that even look up to you as a mentor, career advisor and possibly, key industry player.
  • Sources of Such Conversations - Staff usually give their honest opinions outside work when they congregate in social places such as the cafeteria, bars, hotels, gymnasiums and so forth. Social media platforms and on line forums are also great resources for determining staff happiness outside the workplace.

#4 Monitor Energy and Stress Levels through Body Language
Body language speaks volumes when it comes to overall assessment of people's lives and goes to show us if workers are energetic or stressed out in their daily workplace affairs. You'll have to polish up on your psychology skills to tap into the interpretation of body language. That way, you'll be able to differentiate fake gestures from genuine body signs.

  • Happy Employees - Generally energetic and stress -free. Though not like 'Alice in wonderland'.
  • Unhappy Employees - They're stressed out and can be expert chameleons convincing you with fake body gestures when you're clueless about body language discernment. Plus, they're likely to compromise on their work affairs because they have issues constantly dominating their thought process even as the do their jobs. For others, it might be lack of enough sleep or poor nutrition. Ultimately, you cannot monitor the energy and stress levels of your staff unless you polish up on your body language interpretation and discernment skills.

#5 Determine their Individual Job Satisfaction
Bosses are known to randomly summon their staff members to strike conversation regarding various work place issues. Factors such as work experience, customer satisfaction and company performance are discussed to not only assess the company's progress, but to also get a hint as to how satisfied the staff member is with his/her current job.

  • Happy employees - Satisfied and always informed. They're more than glad to suggest new ideas for the company's overall progress.
  • Unhappy Employees - Tend to be secretive, rude and anti-social. They also form the habit of avoiding contact with the boss at all costs and at times, incite the rest of the employees with their unhappiness. Besides conversation, you can also prepare questionnaires once in a while to get the overall perspective of employee happiness from different angles.

#6 Observe their Personal Lives, if necessary
This can be quite risky and that's why I decided to put it at the bottom of list. Though it's wise to mind your own business in personal staff matters, there are some unique circumstances that will definitely call for crossing of boundaries. An employee might actually be unhappy because of something that happens behind the scenes in their personal lives.

  • Be Gender Sensitive - A male staff member's rage might be attributed to the battering of his wife, unfaithfulness in marriage or alcoholism. This will definitely call for some male advice (Delegate if you're not a male manager). A female staff member's anger might be attributed to neglect of her kids, an impending divorce case or other personal issues that mainly affect women. This calls for some womanly advice (Delegate if you're not female).
  • Unisex Issues Also Count - For instance, there are staff members that subliminally mourn the loss of a loved one despite their best efforts to fake a smile. Such unisex situations will definitely require for you to talk to them about their challenges and possible remedies that might restore happiness in their personal lives. However, this should be done within the discretion of company policy.

In as much as you would want your subordinate staff to be happy, you've got to strike a balance between staff demands and company needs. You might be tempted to compromise on some disciplinary mechanisms to encourage job satisfaction, but too much of this might lead to the legalisation of indiscipline within the worker's minds. It's therefore important to always have a bargaining chip when dealing with staff issues to ensure that company standards are maintained despite occasional compromise in favour of employee happiness and overall job satisfaction.

Sourced Image: Happy Sad Face  

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