Happiness and engagement are two factors critical to the success of the workplace. While making workers happy does not make a company profitable by itself, it does contribute to productivity and other pivotal measures such as willingness to collaborate with others. An office of angry, disgruntled employees who want nothing more than to do their eight hours and go home will likely not lead to a successful company in the long haul.

As such, many businesses do their best to bolster employee engagement, which is a key factor in keeping everyone at the company “emotionally and intellectually” committed, according to research by Inderscience Publishers. This could include everything from the popular foosball or ping-pong table purchases to end-of-the-year parties and bonuses. These initiatives are done to bolster sentiment throughout the workplace and make the everyday grind a bit more fun and rewarding.

The problem here is that many of these engagement tools are superficial – people love playing ping-pong and they always appreciate a bonus, but the value often fades after a while. Then, just as quickly as spirits rise, they can fall fast as well.

Leadership is pivotal to employee engagement and happiness
If companies want to achieve lasting engagement and happiness, the key is not with novelty purchases but by creating a workplace of respect and motivation. When people respect their colleagues, they are often inspired to work harder and more productively. Additionally, when that feeling is mutual, people are more willing to collaborate with each other, which has myriad benefits in and of itself.

Respect is particularly important when it comes to leaders and management. If people do not respect their superiors, it can lead to second-guessing and potentially even conflicts. Whether it is a senior manager, project head or company executive, having an ineffective leader in a position of power may contribute to disengagement and unhappiness. No one aspires to work for someone they cannot respect, and poor management capabilities may lead to that sentiment.

Conversely, an ill-equipped leader may also become disengaged when their employees do not trust them. This can also lead to resentment toward the organization itself for not giving them tools they need to be successful in their careers.

“Disengaged, unhappy people aren’t any fun to work with, don’t add much value and impact our organizations (and our economy) in profoundly negative ways,” explained Harvard Business Review contributor Annie McKee. “It’s even worse when leaders are disengaged because they infect others with their attitude. Their emotions and mindset impact others’ moods and performance tremendously. After all, how we feel is linked to what and how we think. In other words, thought influences emotion, and emotion influences thinking.”

Preparing leaders to do their jobs effectively using influence
Before companies go and buy a ping-pong table, an even wiser investment may be influence training to help people in power reach their objectives while building relationships with their workers. When influence is given priority as a core competence to develop in leaders and managers, an environment of trust, honesty, and integrity is created. This is the type of place where employees are not only happy, but also engaged and proud to be part of the organization.