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70% of employees are unhappy in their work. Here is how to change that

Having a firm's talent pipeline over-stressed and unhappy is not a recipe for a strong, sustainable company

IESE Business School
Published: Nov 4, 2019 10:09:04 AM IST

70% of employees are unhappy in their work. Here is how to change thatImage: Shutterstock

70% of Spanish workers with permanent contracts feel unhappy in their work. In fact, more than 80% say they hate or dislike Mondays, and a similar percentage find their workplace stressful. Meanwhile, 60% would not recommend their own company to a friend.

These are just some of the worrying findings drawn from a quantitative study by IESE Business School professor Mireia Las Heras, director of the school´s International Center for Work and Family. The study´s findings are enumerated in a report that aims to promote excellence and values in business organizations.

The report Excelencia y valores: Claves para la sostenibilidad social y empresarial, prepared in collaboration with the Spanish human resources company Eurofirms, evaluates employees' opinions of their working environment.

A total of 6,290 responses from Spanish employees in diverse sectors and situations were collected and analyzed for the report, which assesses the levels of satisfaction, identification and commitment of Spanish workers with the companies in which they work.

The conclusion: work is not working for the majority. Among the discouraging data: only 13% of men and 24% of women think their salary is fair, though over 70% claim to give their all to their company.

The report highlights how organizations are frequently failing to meet the needs of employees, with staff feeling that what they contribute is greater than what they receive and that the firm is not contributing positively to society.

Here is what can be done to have happier employees
The report´s authors point out five ways that organizations can rectify the situation and move towards excellence.

1.    Pay fairly.
A salary indicates, among other things, to what extent a company values, respects and trusts its employees and the work they do. It is also a reflection of values.

2.    Motivate and provide learning opportunities.
People do not just work for money, but to develop their skills and resources. It is important to generate a stimulating and participatory work environment and leadership styles that promote development.

3.    Reduce stressors and promote health.
Excessive working hours, reduced sleep, a lack of downtime and constant connection all have a huge cost for society, workers and the company.

4.    Strengthen identification with the company's purpose and mission.
Being in tune with company decisions, policies and values increases worker commitment and motivation.

5.    Contribute to society.
A company's social value is of growing importance. Younger generations want to contribute to the greater good, and this is amplified by the easy access and spread of information.

The report´s findings should “serve as a wakeup call” to organizations, says professor Las Heras. After all, having a firm´s talent pipeline over-stressed and unhappy is not a recipe for a strong, sustainable company. Neither is it responsible nor fair.

Instead, an organization should strive for excellence based on the idea of “bringing well-being to all its stakeholders. That means not just its customers, owners and suppliers, but also its workers and their families: contributing to their economic well-being, learning and sense of belonging and purpose.”

[This article has been reproduced with permission from IESE Business School. www.iese.edu/ Views expressed are personal.]

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