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HAVE THEM WHISTLING WHILE THEY WORK

If you were to lay all the nation’s hourly workers from head to toe, they’d wrap around the earth three times. Try talking about 73 million people into doing that. This summer we talked them into something else, though — into sharing how happy they are in their jobs — when Snagajob commissioned a phone survey for the fifth time in as many years.

Snagajob is a company serving both job seekers and employers, a two-sided company bridged by a shared mission to improve the lives of people on both sides of an hourly position. Happy workers live more fulfilling lives and they grow companies. (“Keep your employees happy” is one of 10 Growth Strategies from Inc. 500 CEOs.) For both of these reasons we’ve long believed happiness is important to track.

The resulting Labor Happiness Index for 2011 gave us some good news to share this Labor Day. Roughly six in 10 working Americans surveyed said they are happy in their current jobs, which is good.

But actually that’s not the best news.

Whether or not your hourly workers are happy is largely within your control – that’s the good news. It has little to nothing to do with money, which is largely (or completely) out of your control. Only 15 percent of those surveyed said their paycheck determined their happiness.

Almost 30 percent of happy workers said they’re happy because of the personal satisfaction the job provides. So then really it’s up to you. Do you give people jobs, or do you give people something they would be suited for and enjoy doing?  Do you offer them the opportunity to contribute something valuable to their positions?

They say happiness is a choice. When it comes to the happiness of hourly workers, the choice is yours for the most part. Is your hiring process designed to help people find the right jobs? Then, do you find ways to create the type of working environment that will encourage them to add value to their positions? Do you reward them when they do?

These are important questions loaded with business value. In a Towers Watson study of 50 companies over a one-year period, organizations with high employee engagement had a 19 percent increase in operating income. Conversely, companies with low levels of engagement saw operating income drop more than 32 percent. Partly that’s because engaged workers are 12 percent more productive, according to a Warwick Business School study cited in “10 inexpensive ways to boost employee morale.”

Almost 20 percent of those we surveyed this summer said they’re planning to make a job change, and some of these folks are happy right now. We believe the trend of workers proactively looking for new opportunities will continue.

Last year, 34 percent of workers who changed jobs in the previous 12 months did so because they had been laid off or fired, but now just 22 percent of workers say that is the case, down 12 points in one year. Of those who have landed a new job in the last year, 44 percent said it was a proactive move on their part seeking a new opportunity, up 13 points.

It seems the nation’s hourly workers are not proactively seeking jobs as much as they’re on the hunt for increasing levels of personal satisfaction a job provides. Being that employees determine 90 percent of a company’s profitability, it’s up to you to give them reasons to stay happy so they’ll stick around. Because when happy people stick around, so, too, will your business.

 

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Ashley Lohman is a content producer at Snagajob. When she’s not compelling employers to use Snagajob to mine for talent, Ashley can be found adventuring with her husband and three boys, taking care of all their pets, and serving year round on the board of a kick-butt local youth football association. In her spare time…wait, she doesn’t have any.

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