The Boss Factor: Making the World a Better Place through Workplace Relationships

Viewed in McKinsey & Company

As a growing number of companies reflect on their obligations to society’s betterment beyond their traditional focus on providing desirable products and services at a profit, they need not look far from home. “Because of the connection between happiness at work and overall life satisfaction, improving employee happiness could make a material difference to the world’s 2.1 billion workers,” this McKinsey study concludes.   

Happiness at work increases a lot overall life satisfaction

This study incorporates findings from a substantial 2015 study of over 27,000 employees across 37 European nations, which found that job satisfaction is behind only mental health in its impact as a factor in one’s overall happiness. Any measurable improvement in the happiness of these 2.1 billion workers jobs would thus prove a monumental shift in the overall happiness of over one-fourth of the world’s population (and possibly more when one considers the collateral impact the improvement of one’s happiness might have on family members, friends, and associates).

The simple greatest factor: the relationship with managers

This study also incorporates findings from prior surveys confirming what most might suspect: The single greatest factor in determining one’s happiness at work is their relationship with managers. When that relationship is strained, nothing much else seems to make up for the deficiency. And there is bad news on the boss front: “Unfortunately,” this McKinsey study concludes, “research also shows that most people find their managers to be far from ideal; for example, in a recent survey, 75 percent of survey participants said that the most stressful aspect of their job was their immediate boss.”

Indubitable correlation

The inverse of this also proves true. Citing 2015 survey data, this McKinsey study reports that, among those who described their workplace relations between management and employees as “very good,” 74 percent reported they were “very or completely satisfied” with their jobs. Conversely, among those who reported that relations between management and employees were “very bad,” 45 percent reported they were very, completely, or fairly dissatisfied with their jobs.

Significant impact on company performances

As a growing number of companies reflect on their obligations to society’s betterment beyond their traditional focus on providing desirable products and services at a profit, they need not look far from home. “Because of the connection between happiness at work and overall life satisfaction, improving employee happiness could make a material difference to the world’s 2.1 billion workers,” this McKinsey study concludes.   

Happiness at work increases a lot overall life satisfaction

This study incorporates findings from a substantial 2015 study of over 27,000 employees across 37 European nations, which found that job satisfaction is behind only mental health in its impact as a factor in one’s overall happiness. Any measurable improvement in the happiness of these 2.1 billion workers jobs would thus prove a monumental shift in the overall happiness of over one-fourth of the world’s population (and possibly more when one considers the collateral impact the improvement of one’s happiness might have on family members, friends, and associates).

The simple greatest factor: the relationship with managers

This study also incorporates findings from prior surveys confirming what most might suspect: The single greatest factor in determining one’s happiness at work is their relationship with managers. When that relationship is strained, nothing much else seems to make up for the deficiency. And there is bad news on the boss front: “Unfortunately,” this McKinsey study concludes, “research also shows that most people find their managers to be far from ideal; for example, in a recent survey, 75 percent of survey participants said that the most stressful aspect of their job was their immediate boss.”

Strong correlation

The inverse of this also proves true. Citing 2015 survey data, this McKinsey study reports that, among those who described their workplace relations between management and employees as “very good,” 74 percent reported they were “very or completely satisfied” with their jobs. Conversely, among those who reported that relations between management and employees were “very bad,” 45 percent reported they were very, completely, or fairly dissatisfied with their jobs.

Significant impact on company performances

Finally, while the improvement of employee happiness on the job can be a measurable and credible metric that serves to satisfy mounting demands to broaden corporate agendas to include more macro-level societal impact, there also is good reason to believe that cultivating happy employees ultimately pays off for companies themselves. Customer satisfaction, staff turnover, profitability, and employee productivity are all positively correlated with employee happiness, this McKinsey study reports.

Managers can act on their employees’ happiness

The burden for improving employee happiness lies largely on managers, who must recognize the significant role they play in an employee’s overall happiness and then focus constructively on improving an employee’s happiness in reasonable and controllable ways.

Empathy, Gratitude, Positivity and Awareness will make it

Managers’ seeking to improve employee experiences, this report concludes, should exhibit a willingness and ability to foster the following four sentiments in their management style: 1. Empathy, compassion, and vulnerability; 2.Gratitude; 3.) Positivity; and 4.) Awareness and self-care.

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