Today’s workplace is filled with benefits designed to fit the needs of a contemporary workforce. Flexible hours, remote work options, and company-wide wellness programs reflect a shift to prioritize employee well-being. Other life-related benefits—like paternity leave or an on-site office doctor—show a commitment to accommodating the needs of employees. The way that these workplace benefits have evolved is no accident: companies examine data that tell them which have the best payoffs, most closely meet the needs of their workforce, and align with company goals. Often these goals include making employees feel happier, and in turn more productive and loyal.
When benefits evolve from an already-strong company culture, and are implemented with the needs of people in mind, they have the power to positively shape a company and its workforce because they can make employees happier. This can prove financially salient for a company: happier employees tend to be more productive and remain in their jobs. A recent study found that employee happiness correlates to increased productivity. Additionally, employees who are not satisfied in their jobs tend to look for work elsewhere.
Patagonia, which has housed an on-site school daycare for nearly 34 years, knows the power of employee happiness. Its employee daycare has enabled the company to attract and retain top talent, which has been a boon for the company. When Patagonia’s owners created the daycare during the early years of the company, they were responding to the human needs of a workforce which consisted of their friends and family. It unexpectedly led to a nearly 100% retention rate of mothers employed by the company, and Patagonia’s overall company turnover has been described as “freakishly low”. By listening to their employees, the owners were able to make them feel happier about going to work.
Similarly, many corporate wellness initiatives are designed to keep employees healthier so that they are happier at work. Strong wellness programs bolster employee trust in and commitment to their company and help employees do their best work since illness absenteeism and presenteeism can hurt productivity. Successful wellness programs tap into employees’ personal motivations for health to make employees more excited about being healthy. By prioritizing employee wellness, companies become happier places to work and have the potential to save millions in healthcare costs.
Vishal Jain, VP of Strategy and Financial Wellness for Prudential Group Insurance, says that wellness programs make employees happier by serving their needs holistically. “Wellness, peace of mind: those are things that can contribute to employee happiness” he says. Jain affirms that increasingly wellness programs are expanding beyond health to finances, and that financial wellness is a critical tenet to overall employee wellness, imperative to employee engagement. Finances can be a major source of stress and cause of distraction amongst employees. Poor financial wellness of a workforce can also be costly for employers: premature withdrawals from employer-matched retirement funds and delayed retirement can cause companies to take a financial hit.
Prudential’s financial wellness programs can help alleviate this workplace issue by providing education, guidance, and technology to help employees make healthy financial decisions. This can lessen employee anxieties around money so that mental energies can be refocused on work. It also makes employees feel cared for: they not only receive a salary, but guidance on how to make the most of it.
Ultimately, when a company listens to its employees, and prioritizes their happiness and wellness, it can reap sweet returns. By looking first at a company’s values, goals for happier, more productive employees can then be translated into workplace initiatives for employees that align with these values. Most importantly, companies should implement these benefits with care, attention, and human beings in mind.
This article is part of a series which examines the relationship of happiness to income and work. Learn how self-reliance is critical for financial well-being, how to spend for a happier life, and about managing your wealth for the long term. Prudential is also the sponsor of the Happiness Experiment.
This article was produced on behalf of Prudential by Quartz Creative and not by the Quartz editorial staff.