When faced with productivity concerns, many companies dive headfirst into improving processes. If work is going too slowly, we must be able to tweak procedures, streamline workflow, increase efficiency, do everything possible to get out more product in less time.

But what about tweaking… happiness?

A surprising 2015 study found that increasing employee happiness led to a 12% increase in productivity, while another 2015 study found that happy employees could be as much as 20% more productive than unhappy ones. Those are significant numbers!

And if you really think about it, it makes sense that happier people would work more efficiently. When we’re happy, we naturally feel more energized, inspired, confident and motivated.

So, rather than constantly adjusting processes, wouldn’t it be a better use of your resources to strengthen your people and help them bring their absolute best to the work that they do?

What creates happiness in the workplace?

In my experience as a corporate and leadership coach, I have found that there are 3 key things that make someone feel truly happy and motivated by their work:

  1. The ability to feel safe and supported being their authentic self, without being judged.

  2. Opportunities to grow as individuals and continually take themselves to the next level, in ways that are aligned with their team and their organization’s values.

  3. Feeling that they are valued, heard and recognized for their unique contribution.

How do you create a work environment that promotes these factors? Here are 5 ways to build a happier workplace, for happier employees:

  1. Cultivate a coaching culture
    A coaching culture is one that fosters the ongoing growth and development of the people within the company. People feel good about themselves and about the work that they do when they can continually work to become the best version of themselves. Start a continuous mentoring program beginning when someone joins the organization and following them throughout their time with you. Provide workshops. Offer education and enrichment grants. Create opportunities for people growth and you open up opportunities for corporate growth.

  2. Encourage vision
    You want people working towards corporate objectives, right? Just imagine how motivated they would be if they could align their personal vision with the vision of the company. Encourage people to truly envision what they want for themselves, in all aspects of their lives, both personal and professional. Then have them look at how the work they do can help make their own vision possible. When people do this, they are able to set goals that both fire them up on a personal level and achieve great results for the business.

  3. Recognize… LOUDLY
    In another eye opening study, professionals were asked what managers could do to inspire great work. 37% replied, “Recognize me.” Think of any time someone told you you were doing a great job, and especially being told why. Maybe someone pointed out your improvement in a sport that you play. Maybe they said you were a great parent because of the way you handled a tantrum. Or maybe your boss acknowledged how expertly you handled a tense client situation. Didn’t your heart swell with pride? Weren’t you inspired to keep working harder and harder to become better and better at what you do? That’s what recognition does, so do it often, and do it loudly. Consider a system where employees can recognize each other as well, and even recognize management. Make recognition an integral part of your corporate culture.

  4. Spotlight strengths
    Noticing and spotlighting people’s strengths goes beyond recognition. In this instance, you actively look for ways (ideally by working with your employee) to empower them to use their unique strengths more and more often in the work that they do. Ask them what they love, what projects fire them up, and what it is about it that they love so much. Then co-create ways for them do more of that!

  5. Practice 3rd level listening
    When someone feels truly heard, they feel valued. 3rd level listening goes beyond simple hearing to full observation and mirroring back. Notice body language, energy level, voice intonation, everything. Then mirror it back, without judgement, “I get the sense you’re feeling distracted today. Can I help?” This not only helps people feel valued, it also helps them break down their personal barriers to be their most authentic self.

The proof is in the numbers. Happier employees are productive employees. And good productivity equals good business results. When you think about it, can you really afford not to invest in the happiness of your people?


  • Melissa Dawn

    Founder of CEO of Your Life | Author | Speaker | Coach

    Melissa Dawn is the founder of CEO of Your Life. As a motivational speaker, coach, author, energetic healer and former VP Marketing, her approach is unconventional, inspirational, fun and holistic, guiding people and organizations to get from where they are to where they want to be. She is the international bestselling author of I Attract What I Am: Transform Failure into an Orgasmically Joyful Life and Business.