CIPD Showcase presentation: How can HR lead the drive for employee happiness?

At the CIPD Annual Conference 2017, Debbie Kleiner-Gaines and Ian Rummels from PES gave a Showcase presentation on creating happiness at work – and why it matters.

Read on to discover the key points from our well received CIPD Showcase presentation.

Although happiness means different things to different people, it’s a powerful, emotive word, and so a great starting point for engaging employees.

Happiness may be subjective but it could be reframed as: ‘creating a better employee experience to drive profitability and productivity’. This is likely to sit better with Finance Directors and CEOs!

We believe that there are broadly two types of CEO. One is driven by doing the right thing and instinctively knows that a focus on wellbeing is important. The other is driven by profit and needs the evidence to prioritise spend on wellbeing.

At PES, we support both. Quite simply, we believe that a focus on happiness is a focus on productivity. Here are some solid reasons why.

  • ‘There is evidence to indicate that there is a positive association between wellbeing and an employee’s job performance’
Department for Business Innovation and Skills October 2014
  • 1 in 6 people of working age have a diagnosable mental health condition
  • Over 15 million days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2014
Public Health England
  • £73 billion is the cost of lost productivity due to failure to adequately invest in health and wellbeing
Vitality Health

We’re not alone in our belief – companies are spending money on happiness coaches, team-building exercises, gameplays, funsultants, and Chief Happiness Officers (yes, you’ll find one of those at Google).

There’s more to wellbeing than happiness

But although happiness is important, it’s not the only thing that fosters wellbeing. There are so many different elements to a positive employee experience that it can be confusing for HR to really know where to focus their efforts.

A fascinating psychological model by Martin Seligman is called PERMA. He believes there are five core elements of psychological wellbeing and happiness. These are essentially the formula to a sense of meaning or purpose. They are broken down as follows:

– Positive emotion ‘feeling good’

E – Engagement ‘finding flow’

R – Relationships ‘authentic connections’

M – Meaning ‘purposeful existence’

A – Achievement – a sense of accomplishment

Practical application

So how does all this translate into practice? Here are some of the key issues HR professionals need to consider when leading the drive to create a positive employee experience. These touch on many aspects of the business, some of which HR controls directly, others which HR can influence by taking a holistic approach to employee happiness.

Board-level buy-in: make sure you work with your top team to create a successful, embedded wellbeing strategy.

Values and culture: what does your organisation stand for? Is ‘employee wellbeing’ or happiness included? When you recruit, be sure to consider the candidates’ values and cultural fit, as well as their skills and experience.

Leadership behaviours: there are many different leadership styles, which can affect communications and productivity. Leaders who set clear goals and encourage empowerment tend to maximise productivity. However the key question is: do your leaders understand their own style and how to improve it?

Line managers: are they fair, supportive and able to listen to their teams? Here, HR comes into its own in designing and delivering training that ensures line managers create a positive culture.

Communication: how much involvement do your employees have in the organisation? What do you want them to feel when you communicate? Who do they need to hear from? What channels work best? Employee engagement is very hard to achieve without good communication.

Job roles: another key area where HR can excel. Are people doing what their job description says? Matching jobs to business goals so people understand their contribution, and are rewarded for it, is key to wellbeing.

Physical environment: is it safe, pleasant and easy to get to? Small changes can made a big difference. Consulting experts in the workplace environments can help to foster productivity and positivity.

Flexibility: HR can help to introduce flexible working practices that accommodate different employee needs. Can you trust people to work from home, for example, even if it’s just for the first hour of the day to avoid a lengthy, stress-inducing commute? Some research shows that long commutes are as demotivating as pay cuts!

Policies: less is more, generally! Do you need policies of encyclopaedic depth? Absence policies are a great example. Why have 15 pages when you could have two? If they’re short, they can be easily read and understood.

Equipment and ergonomics: from comfortable desks and chairs to efficient, easy-to-use technology, do people have the tools they need to feel good and perform well?

Employee benefits: these are an important part of any reward package. An attractive online benefits scheme is within the reach of smaller organisations as well as big businesses. Benefits can be a great differentiator, as well as a means of boosting employee loyalty and productivity.

Working together: make sure that whoever is responsible for the different elements that make up the employee experience (HR, employee benefits specialists, internal communications, physical wellbeing specialists, facilities, etc) work together with a shared vision for employee happiness.

Can we help you create a great employee experience with online employee benefits? Are you looking to outsource your HR? Or are you thinking of implementing workplace wellbeing initiatives? Please contact us for an informal chat!

We know why workplace wellbeing works…

Download the Viewpoint paper below to discover the secrets: