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12 Secrets of a Happy and Productive Workplace

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The Gallup organisation has recently compiled results from questionnaires and interviews of more than one million employees over 25 years (Onsman, 1999). Using factor analysis, regression analysis and concurrent validity methods the researchers identified which factors would indicate whether employees were likely to be satisfied and stay with their employers.

These 12 ‘core elements’ attract and retain productive employees and can be summarised by these questions:

  • Do I know what is expected of me?
  • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  • At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  • Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  • At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission of my company make me feel like my work is important?
  • Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  • Do I have a best friend at work?
  • In the past six months, have I talked to with someone about my progress?
  • At work, have I had the opportunity to learn and grow?

According to the Gallop researchers, these questions are particularly important to productive, talented workers and less so for under-performing staff. As the results show, pay does not even get mentioned and most of the 12 involve the quality of workplace relationships – with colleagues, bosses and workplace friends.

Yet many managers today do no have the ‘soft’ skills or willingness to tackle interpersonal issues. Many managers are uncomfortable with the people side of management, preferring to focus on objectives and tangible tasks rather than the subtle areas of human emotions and motivation.

These twelve factors give leaders a clearer idea of what their employees need to experience job satisfaction and to be productive. To start, employees want to be told what is expected of them in clear and straight-forward terms (although 70% currently indicate they are not clear what their managers expect).

According to these results those leaders who help people have constructive and supportive relations at work will help that workplace become a great place to work.

Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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