Umpteen studies over the decades have proven that a happy employee is not necessarily a productive employee. So all the talk and articles and blog posts about how to make your employees happy are misleading. Making employees happy is not what you should be trying to accomplish.
So what do you want your employees to be?
First of all, you want them to be productive. Getting the job done is the sine qua non — without which, there is nothing. But productivity these days is not enough. You can, through command, control, manipulation, and consequences get people to be productive. But as a result, they won’t be committed — to providing the best service, to continuous improvement, to developing their skills, and to your company.
So secondly, you want employees who get satisfaction from their work. This is not the same as being satisfied – that’s not motivational. Rather, it is the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment and doing good work, which is the strongest source of motivation — intrinsic motivation.
When someone derives satisfaction from their work, they treat other employees and customers better, they put in extra effort, they want more of the satisfaction from doing a good job.
Don’t try to make employees happy or satisfied. Instead, help them to be productive and to get satisfaction from accomplishment. Only then can you maximize your return on people.