Career Bliss released its “10 Happiest/Unhappiest Cities to Work In” survey less than a month ago. My initial thought on reading it was all the top-10 unhappiest cities would be in bitterly cold regions, or places that don’t see sunlight as much as say, California. But then I read through it and found three cities in Florida made the unhappy list?! That’s what I get for assuming.
Florida? Palm trees, ocean views, and sandy beaches. I mean I know it rains every once in a while and yeah there is that hurricane season but come on, it’s Florida. The weather’s nice and most of its major cities have beautiful beaches to tide workers over during their lunch break. Even Sacramento, CA made the unhappy list, too.
So what makes or breaks this list? The happiness survey was less about location and more about an employee’s relationship with their boss, their work environment, job resources, wages, workplace culture, career advancement, and other markers.
Then what makes Cincinnati, OH less desirable than San Jose, CA? Throw out the weather and extracurricular opportunities like beaches that employees could factor in as “schedule flexibility." Now what are you left with? Do employees in unhappy cities loathe management more than California workers? I doubt it.
With the exception of employee salaries, most of the talking points in that survey could be improved with a better approach to communication between the company and its staff.
Here are a few ways better communication can turn frowns upside down and help make any city in this country a happy place to work in.
Mend Management-Employee Relationships
Happiness between an employee and their manager begins with better trust and understanding of what must be done at work. 1 in 3 employees admit their boss isn’t doing an effective job, while 50% of employees insist they could do their manager’s job better than them. Now most employees wouldn’t say this out in the open for fear of retribution or loss of their job. But there needs to be a better way to approach honest communication.
If management isn’t aware of the issues, how do you expect them to fix them? If employees aren’t coached on how to move past it, there will just be more growing resentment, and in some cases, those employees will leave. A series of communication courses taken by both parties is the first step.
With better trust , the next step is for management to communicate job expectations, and then supervise from there. Using Thinkzoom, you could create quick courses every month that issue a list of objectives you want an employee - or team of employees - to focus on. Define their goals, how they’ll tackle them, and leave room in the message asking for their feedback.
Involve your employees more and you increase engagement, co-worker relationships and build a better team in the process.
Communicate Company Policies
You can’t move from zero transparency to complete transparency about workplace policies overnight. But you must start to communicate your workplace’s rules and regulations if you haven’t already. Handing them a company brochure and expecting them to read it cover to cover isn’t a solution; video communications that break up company policies into segments is a better avenue. With a knowledge sharing platform, leadership and HR build a series of quick videos on what their policies are, how to abide by them and which department to send questions to (because you know there will be some).
It’s better to have 10 short videos on how corporate policies affect employees than to not have any sort of concrete measure in place.
Communicate Why Culture Matters, Not Just What It Is
59% of women - and 53% of men - cite their healthy relationship to the work environment as a reason they stay.
How does your company communicate its foundation, its heart and its message to employees? You can’t just say your company is a “fun-loving, bean-bag filled adventure… where work happens.” You need to send a clear message to your staff about why your company is where it’s at today, maybe talk about how it has evolved since Day 1, and how the employees are central to so many moving parts moving the way they need to.
For instance, if you have a culture of open, honest communication, say so. Explain the values behind why open feedback between employees, departments, etc., can work wonders because it fulfills “X, Y and Z” for the business. And if you don’t have an open, honest communication policy, then admit that as well.
You can’t have employees guessing at what defines the workplace. Everyone’s in this together and they need to be told why.
Ok, so maybe if we all worked from lawn chairs on white, sandy beaches and the weather was a perfect 75 degrees, then maybe, just maybe we’d all be happier at work. Truth is, you could have that nice weather and perfect office location and still feel the sting of unhappy employees if communication is poor.
When you improve communication, you develop better performance improvement levels from employees, who become more satisfied with their work, which helps build that happy workforce your company craves.