Andrew Tobin, CEO of Irish private cloud company Stryve talks about the importance of happy workplaces, not just for employees but also for the bottom line.
Work is a huge part of our adult life. We typically spend five days out of seven working. Given that it’s such a major part of our life, surely we should do all we can as employers to make ‘work’ more enjoyable.
There are lots of benefits from having a happy workplace. It makes sense for the bottom line. Done well it is a win-win. Happy and more engaged workplaces are 22pc more profitable according to Gallup. They have 26pc lower employee turnover and experience less absenteeism.
“Creating a happy workplace requires a change of perspective for traditionally trained management. Businesses that embrace a happy workplace will ultimately reap the economic and social benefits”
When work can become a source of enjoyment, employees are more productive, take fewer sick days and stay in that job for longer thereby saving money and resources for the company.
At Stryve we actively foster a happy work environment for our team. In my experience, when you value and trust your employees, all working together towards a common goal you get the best from everyone. I believe in this so strongly that Stryve has teamed up with ‘WakeUp’ a leadership programme, to host the annual Happy Workplaces Conference where international industry experts share tips on designing and creating a happy workforce.
A company’s leadership is key when it comes to creating a happy workplace. Employees invest a huge portion of time into growing a company, they want to like the leader, the vision and the values that it sets out. It’s very difficult for people to get excited about something if there is no clear vision or if they are not onboard with the goals.
Stryve has been in the cybersecurity and cloud business for some time. We have a weekly company catch-up and over a number of discussions with our team we refined our objectives to focus on private cloud. Listening to our team and utilising the skills that they are excited about we now offer a truly unique service, ‘private cloud’. This is a clear vision that our team can get on board with and are passionate about delivering.
At the recent national Happy Workplaces Conference, empowerment coach, Aoife O’Brien, spoke about how important it is for leaders to know and communicate your company’s values. Julie Pone, an experienced career coach, spoke about stress and defined a red and green zone. When in the red zone the body is stressed, the immune system slows down and the digestive system can be adversely affected. The body goes into protect, fight or flight mode. Whilst in the green zone stress is manageable and employees are focused on achievement without distraction.
Henry Stewart, from Happy Training Company in London, found in a recent survey his company conducted, that “flexibility” was identified as the most important thing in the modern workplace. Given the current circumstances around work, remote working, schooling, now more than ever we need flexibility. Flexibility is a key value at Stryve. Whilst we have a small workforce of 18 people, they are a very engaged, driven and I would argue, a happy workforce. We set happiness as a goal for our company and its employees.
The importance of trust
Flexibility however comes at a cost: trust. We need to be able to trust each other at work. The company needs to trust that its employees are getting your work done effectively and employees need to trust that the company has got their backs. Trust is an essential element of the happy workplace. An employee can mess up a task in work, break something, sleep in … but one thing you cannot break is trust! Trust is much more difficult to repair.
Companies often take the well-worn path here, bring in time sheeting systems, etc to try and control the minority who are taking the proverbial.
This has a negative effect to the wider workforce who warrant the trust of the company. If you don’t trust an individual, chances are your colleagues don’t either. There’s no upside here, so as a leader deal with this situation. Management need to grasp the nettle, in order to preserve workplace happiness by dealing with that problem which may involve a very small number of employees.
This is my call out to more companies and business leaders to take ‘employee happiness’ seriously. Develop a vision that is easy for people to buy into and get excited by. Work on leadership skills and good leadership traits. Emotional Intelligence expert, Daniel Goleman’s book Primal Leadership is a good starting place. Be flexible. Be authentic. Stay in the green zone. And trust your workforce.
Creating a happy workplace requires a change of perspective for traditionally trained management. Businesses that embrace a happy workplace will ultimately reap the economic and social benefits.
Headquartered in Carlow, Stryve has offices in Dublin, London and has recently set up its European Sales Office in Warsaw. The company is planning to expand in 2021 both through acquisitions and recruitment. Stryve provides a range of cloud services including Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS), disaster recovery and secure online backups from its own, dedicated private data centre in Cork. Proponents of the philosophy that private cloud is the only fully secure cloud, a service which sets Stryve apart from established competitors like Azure and AWS, the company guarantee data sovereignty with a track record of zero downtime.