Happy employees are one of the most important items on the agenda for many companies – and it turns out that Belgium has passed that test with flying colours.
According to Universum’s Global Workforce Happiness Index, the result of a survey of 250,000 employees around the world, Belgium landed in the No. 1 spot on the list of countries with the happiest employees, trailed by Norway, Costa Rica, Denmark and South Africa.
The survey calculated employees’ happiness based on their job satisfaction, the likelihood that they recommend their current employer, and their loyalty to the company, i.e. their willingness to stay for the long-term. A happy employee is someone who views the company as a good place to work and has no interest in changing jobs – and considering that employee turnover rates are rising, a happy workplace has become essential for companies not only in Belgium but around the world.
The importance of happiness in the workplace
Ensuring that employees are happy – not just succeeding in their positions at the company – is a relatively new workplace phenomenon. Employees are less loyal to companies than they were years before; in fact, the survey states that 49 million more employees will leave their current companies compared to 2012, resulting in nearly 200-million-worker exodus. Holding on to top talent and remaining cost-effective (employee on-boarding can be expensive) is just one of reasons that workplace happiness is important – employees’ performance and well-being are another.
A Robert Half survey of over 2,000 workers showed that happy employees bring companies three key benefits:
They’re more productive. The survey cited research that showed happy employees are up to 12% more productive than unhappy employees. This productivity can be a result of having pride in their work – when employees are happy, they care more about the work they do and, as a result, perform far better.
They’re healthier. Happiness – and less stress – in the workplace does correlate with healthier employees. Not only will you have employees that care about their well-being, they’ll miss fewer days of work due to being sick.
They’re loyal. Not only will happy employees stay with your organization for the long term, they’ll become advocates for your company. Happy workers won’t complain over dinner and drinks to their friends and family. Instead, they’ll praise your company and recommend it to others.
Belgium: a leader in workplace happiness
Belgium has consistently ranked as one of the best places to work abroad for a number of reasons. Most Belgian companies take the needs of their different groups of employees – based on region, function, gender or other parameters — and cater to them, knowing that one generic solution to keep all employees happy does not exist.
Talent management for expats
Belgian businesses are very much aware of their competitors and talent, and they consider talent management to be a strategic asset. Belgium has become a trendsetter for industry standards on benefits, compensation and work life, laying the foundation for happy employees.
The focus is not only on the happiness of employees in a particular company; comparisons with other companies are also made to ensure employees will want to stay, which in turn is important for the company. The goal is always to ensure that employees feel equal to colleagues in other organizations, no matter where they are from.
Treating senior employees well
The factors attracting candidates to a new job are not the same as the ones that are important after they have already been hired. Research indicates that employees are attracted to jobs because of compensation and job security; once hired, however, the focus shifts to career development and senior leadership.
Belgian companies meet the evolving needs of their senior employees, generating loyalty and trust. Employees know that working for a Belgian company will bring them greater career benefits, and not just in compensation: they’re offered a chance to learn and grow in their positions.
Opportunity for career development
A significant reason for loyalty to Belgian companies is the attention these organizations give to career development. Many of the employees participating in the survey were not unhappy in their job, but they did not feel content either – they were restless.
Restless employees are only moderately happy in their job; they might consider recommending the company, but they are still open to a change of jobs should a better opportunity arise. Employing high-performing talent is important for Belgian employers, especially those who show an active interest in their most valuable employees.
By paying attention to the growth of their talent, employers secure the growth of their organization. This creates a mutual benefit for both the company and the employee: a successful company and a loyal, healthy and happy employee.