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THE benefits of a happy workforce have been well evidenced over the years, with happier staff being more productive, working harder and collaborating on the furthered success of the business in which they work. But the importance of staff happiness stretches beyond just the productivity and financial business benefits. Christina Colmer McHugh, co-founder of Moodbeam, the leading health tech brand supporting businesses with employee happiness, discusses.

The current landscape: A return to normal? 

The start of the new academic year usually heralds a sense of renewal in September, but this year this sense of revitalisation is heightened due to life returning to some semblance of normality following the easing of coronavirus restrictions and a rigorous vaccination programme throughout the summer.

In the height of summer, the NHS test and trace app was sending some half a million alerts per week instructing people to self-isolate. With staff out of action for 10 days at a time, those that remain are forced to work longer hours or more days to fill the gap. While the sensitivity of the app has now been altered, there are many areas of life and business that are not as they were before, facing unique challenges and anxieties – many of which are out of their control.

We only have to look at the news to see the impact. Those hit hardest are those businesses where roles cannot be performed remotely, and the impact has been widely reported across various sectors. Certain businesses like hospitality venues have been especially hard hit since restrictions were lifted, with reports showing that many venues were so short of staff due to isolation at certain points they were forced to close again.

Arguably one of the biggest issues facing businesses right now is the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers. This shortage is being driven by more than just pandemic-induced pressures and is an area that is currently struggling to attract new, younger talent too. Those drivers remaining are working harder than ever before, trying to plug the gap of the tens of thousands of drivers that have been lost to delays in testing, Brexit, and more.

As well as this, these drivers are facing the additional pressure of trying to minimise the onward impact of supply chain delays. A shortage of qualified drivers is leading to supply chain delays, which is turn puts negative pressures on those further down the supply chain in various forms. This in itself is wide-reaching, from supermarket staff having to deal with disgruntled customers unable to buy their favourite foods to the cost of construction materials going up due to shortages, costing companies and their clients thousands in materials and potential delay costs.

Add in any personal feeling or anxieties around what may happen as we move into the winter months, and it is clear to see why supporting the happiness of your workforce in any sector is so importance.

So, what does it matter if staff are happy? 

High workloads, long hours and labour shortages are issues that are not able to be fixed overnight, and businesses will be placing this central to ongoing strategies to ensure their operations remain sustainable. In simple terms, businesses are addressing pressured on their workforces to make sure their employers are happy.

Staff that have been furloughed have found new passions, new ventures or embarked on new opportunities, but have also founder a greater need for flexibility from employers – especially for those roles that can be performed remotely. Indeed, this is being recognised by employers, with a YouGov survey conducted on behalf of Acas revealing that more than half (55 per cent) of senior decision makers polled in UK companies expecting to see an increase in the number of staff working remotely for part of the week.

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Hybrid models will come with challenges but are looking to become the norm. Any employers that can address this flexible working but chooses not to meet those expectations and desire from their staff will risk losing them to companies that will. And with certain industries struggling to fill vacancies, there will be lots of opportunity for job movement in the coming months.

Equally, most companies have staff that have worked through the pandemic, working in their spare bedrooms, living rooms or at their dining tables during one of the most stressful times in both their personal and professional lives. In many cases these staff members will have been working incredibly long hours to help keep businesses trading and to help reduce the need for redundancies by picking up greater workloads when colleagues were furloughed. There is no doubt that these individuals are exhausted and burned out, and if employers don’t make sure their needs – including happiness – are met, they will soon be off to pastures new for a fresh start.

We also have to consider the different generations across our workforce. Moving to a fully remote working set up will work for more senior staff who, who are more likely to live in a home with ample space for a dedicated office. However, younger staff members may still be living with parents or within smaller, often rented homes that are not well suited to working from home – and they will most certainly lose out on all of the learning experiences that come from being in the office too.

How can we tell if our staff are happy?

We need to be able to know how our people are feeling and in a way that allows them to tell us via their own mechanism. Only then can employers know the baseline they need to work from, and technology will play a huge role in this.

Moodbeam is one such technology that supports this. The daily mood logging tech creates employee voice within an organisation and allows people and teams to log their moods visibily to senior managers and HR. This gives a real-time temperature check on the happiness measure across the business, its teams and individuals.

Knowing how your people feel allows you to address what’s going well in your business, as well as changes that can be implemented to make your staff happier and improving the overall business happiness score. In terms of ROI, it can identify the early triggers that can lead to much-needed conversations to stabilise a team environment and increase a sense of self-worth, as well as addressing the things that just need a simple adjustment to improve the employee experience.

A certain department, branch or store may be tracking unhappier than others across the board, or a certain point in the week may prove a trigger for stress across the whole business. But, how do you know that if you can’t see it? The crucial thing is the ability to see these trends and patterns within the organisational dashboard, allowing you to identify key stress points and address them to create positive change.

The strength in any business is its people, so stay connected with them and give them a voice in your organisation. Keeping them happy, will keep them with you.

Available on a subscription basis for companies, Moodbeam is offered as a lanyard-worn ‘pod’ or through a direct-entry app.

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