If you’re a manager, you know only too well that some employees see work as a necessary evil. It pays the bills. And even if they don’t hate work per se, given their druthers, they’d much rather stay at home than head to the office.

It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you can play a key role in helping your team feel a lot better about coming to work every day.

Why should you care? If team members are completing their projects, what does it matter if they’re counting the hours until quitting time? It matters because there’s strong evidence that employees who are happy with their company and their work make the best employees.

What makes employees happy

There are a lot of factors that make employees happy at work:

  • The ability to make decisions on their own
  • The opportunity to do creative work
  • A good balance between work and the other aspects of their lives
  • Feeling appreciated for the work they do
  • Having a job that relates to their skills and preferences

All of these elements are important. But the most critical element of all may be how your employees feel about the company itself. Are they proud of the company? Do they know what principles it stands for? Do they brag to their friends and family about the work the company does?

Why pride matters

According to recent research by my company, Robert Half, pride in one’s organization is the strongest driver of happiness for workers in both the United States and Canada. Pride topped the list for men, women and workers 35 and up. Overall, workers who feel proud of their organizations are three times more likely to be happy at work compared to those who don’t. 

How to build employee pride

You can start instilling pride by reminding workers of why your particular business is a great place to work. What do you stand for?

Every company is a bit different. Does yours have a commitment to helping solve a particular problem or issue? To environmental stewardship? To giving back to the community? Does your firm help improve the lives of your customers in a significant way?

Sometimes a company telegraphs its values and priorities through a mission statement that’s shared with the public and employees. Nike’s mission is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” (And just so there’s no misunderstanding, Nike adds, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”) Coke seeks “to refresh the world in mind, body and spirit.” And Google’s is no less than “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” 

These feelings and ideals are what you want to instill in your team. And when communicating them, make it personal. Explain to employees that their individual contributions are what sustain and reinforce the company’s values.

What makes me proud of my company

Perhaps the easiest way to envision what I’m talking about it to offer a personal example. I have great pride in my company, Robert Half, and I’ll tell you why.

As a staffing firm, we assist people in a key area of their lives: finding employment. This gives them not only a source of financial security but also dignity. At the same time, we help businesses grow by providing them with the skilled people they need to succeed. Unquestionably, we enjoy the financial rewards of our hard work. But no price tag can be attached to the satisfaction we get from knowing our company helps people and organizations in these fundamental ways.

We also have a set of LEAD Principles at Robert Half:

  • Leadership by example
  • Ethics first
  • An openness to new ideas
  • Dedication to excellence

They are the values that define our company, and they are integrated into key programs and communication efforts. New employees hear about them from Day One forward. The LEAD Principles are even inscribed on the walls of our corporate headquarters!

Knowing that my work helps makes a difference in people’s lives and that my company has a set of values each employee adheres to is very gratifying.

Robert Half also constantly reminds employees that we work for the best. My company is first in our industry on Fortune® magazine’s list of “Most Admired Companies.” We’ve appeared on the list each year since 1998. Forbes magazine named Robert Half No. 1 on its list of “America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms.” We frequently appear on “Best Place to Work” lists. And each time the company receives one of these honors, it’s celebrated, and employees are told how they helped Robert Half attain these distinctions.

Some say pride drives happiness. To me, it’s a form of happiness in and of itself. Give your team members every opportunity you can to take pride in the organization where they work. Help them become a proud family.

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