February 7, 2022

3 ways your finance team can increase employee happiness in the workplace

In the age of the Great Resignation, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to retain their employees. With the number of workers quitting their jobs reaching a 20-year high, businesses need an effective employee retention strategy in order to hang on to their workforce.

That’s why optimizing employee happiness in the workplace is a top priority for organizations today. And every department can contribute, even if it’s not obvious at first glance. One way finance teams can help increase employee happiness is by making employee-facing finance processes intuitive and seamless. For instance, consider enabling people at your company to easily access company money for purchases, instead of having them pay out-of-pocket. With better processes and experiences—especially for administrative tasks—employees become more productive, companies reduce employee turnover, and you can create a company culture that attracts new talent.

What is employee happiness and why does it matter?

Happy employees are people who feel fulfilled by their jobs and want to stay at your company. It’s also been shown that happiness corresponds strongly to engagement.

According to research by Gallup, keeping employees engaged has significant positive effects on your company. For example, happy employees are 41% less likely to be absent. With more employees showing up to work each day, your workplace productivity will increase.

Losing and replacing an employee is expensive, with turnover costing up to a trillion dollars each year for US businesses. Thankfully, companies can reduce their turnover rate from 24% to 59% when employees are engaged.

Also, keeping employees happy isn’t just good for their well-being and productivity—it’s good for your bottom line. Companies with engaged employees experience 20% higher sales and 21% higher profitability.

3 tactics your finance team can use to contribute to employee happiness

Certain strategies are proven to boost employee well-being and job satisfaction. Here are some ways to create an employee experience that leaves your workforce feeling happy and engaged:

1. Help make flexibility an essential part of your workplace culture

Flexible work is a form of work arrangement that allows employees to work outside the 9-to-5 routine. It’s a trend that’s here to stay and provides a better work-life balance. And younger workers even report being willing to accept a lower salary if they can work from home permanently.

According to MIT Sloan professor Erin Kelly, who researched the impact of flexibility on employee satisfaction:

“Our study found that increasing employees’ say in when, where, and how they do their work, and conveying support for their personal and family life, both improved well-being and reduced turnover, reducing costs for the company, too.”

According to research by the World Economic Forum, 75% of workers want a mix of office-based and remote working. That’s why many companies now offer employees the possibility to work wherever they are more productive, whether it’s from home or at the office.

But putting work-from-home (WFH) policies into practice can be tricky, especially for businesses with employees in multiple locations. How will you support people in buying the equipment they need for their home office? How will they pay for the software subscriptions they need to do their jobs? Corporate cards can’t typically be shared securely in a remote environment. But having employees pay out of their own pocket and reimbursing them adds another layer of complexity. By leveraging purchasing platforms and with the right finance processes in place, people can make purchase requests for WFH equipment—plus anything else they may need to buy for their jobs—and get them approved with ease, instead of wasting time on manual processes.

2. Make it easy to acknowledge your employees’ small wins

Celebrating your employees’ small wins improves company morale, builds motivation, and encourages them to continue doing their best. The finance team can enable the celebration of small wins for employees with a seamless purchase request process for buying small gifts quickly. Purchasing software not only makes it possible, but easy to make an abundance of these small purchases without adding additional overhead for managers or the finance team.

To discover the power of small wins on employee happiness, researchers at Harvard Business School surveyed employees about their motivations and emotions at the end of each workday.

The study found that one of the most significant factors in employee happiness is a feeling of achievement — 76% of the employees’ best days in the study were when they felt a sense of progress, no matter how big or small. According to Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer, the researchers who led the study in an article for HBR:

“Even ordinary, incremental progress can increase people’s engagement in the work and their happiness during the workday. Across all types of events our participants reported, a notable proportion (28%) of incidents that had a minor impact on the project had a major impact on people’s feelings about it.”

3. Support employees’ professional growth and career advancement

If you don’t help employees with their career advancement or professional development, they risk feeling stuck and unsatisfied and may leave for a better opportunity.

Many companies have professional development budgets to support employees as they grow and learn. But oftentimes, the financial aspects of these programs become a bottleneck to their effectiveness. In some instances, employees aren’t sure how much is in their development budget, or don’t want to front the cost for an expensive class or conference.

In order to encourage them to take advantage of the program, finance can help by giving employees the ability to view their actual spend against the budget. They can also provide controlled access to company money, so employees aren’t stuck footing the bill and waiting for reimbursement. This kind of experience helps drive employee engagement and happiness.

Better business results start by prioritizing employee happiness

Improving happiness in the workplace all comes down to treating employees like human beings, not work machines. The finance team can contribute to employee happiness by improving the efficiency of flexible work models, making it easy to acknowledge small wins, and better enabling professional development efforts. These are just a few ways that the finance team can contribute to employee happiness and performance, and in return, drive more revenue for your company.

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