Does Employee Happiness Really Matter?

Dan Lok Says Employee Happiness Isn't Key to Business Success. Find out why.

Dan Lok says employee happiness isn’t key to business success. Do you agree?

Entrepreneur Dan Lok comes across as a high-energy, high-hype salesman type. So I had two surprises in store for me when I interviewed him:

  1. Despite his controversial statements, such as saying it’s a myth that employee happiness key, we actually agree on quite a lot, and
  2. He had never intended or wanted to be a businessman in his youth.

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How to Make Employees Happy So They’ll Make Your Customers Happy

In today’s podcast, Dan argues that pandering to employees won’t make them happy for long, nor will it make them productive workers.

He quite rightly points out that if you give a year end bonus two years in a row because your company did well, but then have to give less during a bad year, employees will be angry. They will have come to see the bonus as a right, not a bonus.

Employee happiness doesn't have to come from unrelated fun. (Photo by Al Abut on Flickr)

Employee happiness doesn’t have to come from unrelated fun. (Photo by Al Abut on Flickr)

Likewise, you may have a fun workplace with nerf balls and pool tables, but ultimately, true employee joy comes from within. It comes from doing their job well, and having a job worth doing.

So Lok tries to ensure that the people he hires are truly committed to the mission of the company, and excited to be working there.

That makes total sense, but where we disagree is that, to me, that attitude — and a workplace culture that reinforces it — is what creates employee happiness, and employee happiness is key.

Employee Happiness is Not the Only Myth

He raises some other excellent points in our conversation, such as:

  • If you own a business it is unreasonable to expect employees to care about your business as much as you do. As Dan put it, if they had an “employer mindset” they wouldn’t be your employees. That said, profit sharing can change that attitude in most employees, because then they are owners.
  • The best way to express appreciation for the work your employees do is with specific praise, not with free movie passes. (Again, though, I would argue that a bit of both could be beneficial.)
  • You should set clear performance standards and expectations, and then manage for results. If people don’t know what is expected of them, you are unlikely to get it.
  • Having a specific goal they are working towards will motivate employees more than money. If someone wants to earn $15,000 to go on a dream vacation, help them break down what results they would have to accomplish to earn that money, help them track it and have a picture of that vacation destination on their desk. That will motivate them more than if they were just counting the dollars themselves.

What Other Myths Do You Think Exist About Employees & Motivation?

Please add your thoughts below.

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