When you think about the elements required to make a good workplace, you might not immediately go to ‘Happiness’ as being one of them.
You might instead think of; tools of work, healthy relationships, recognition and opportunities for growth. However, studies reveal the value of happiness at work.
How to promote happiness in the workplace: tips for managers
Listen with action
As a manager, you should encourage your team to share feedback and be willing to listen to them. Encourage them to share about their work, ask questions they may have on schedules and so much more. Depending on your leadership style, you might also check in on people about issues outside of the workplace.
Being approachable and a good listener will improve the relationship with your team. They will feel confident in sharing mistakes and asking for advice, resulting in a happier workplace. But in some cases, particularly with work related issues, listening will only translate to happiness if it is backed up with action.
Here is an example; if an employee approaches you about back pain they are facing as a result of their chair, they will need more than just a listening ear. What they need is for you to take action and see about getting them an ergonomic chair or alternative seating.
Make team bonding a priority
To promote happiness in the workplace, make time for team bonding. Team bonding fosters unity, solidarity and friendship. All this creates an environment where happiness can thrive.
When planning for team bonding activities, be sure to get the input of the team. People have different ideas of fun, especially in culturally diverse workplaces. Get ideas from the group and prepare activities where everyone can relax and have a good time.
You can also create a tradition of celebrating cultural holidays and birthdays in the office. When people have a good time together, it kills the monotony of work and improves wellbeing.
Offer opportunities for growth
A lack of career progression is one of the many reasons workers are dissatisfied in the workplace. When workers feel stuck, bored, overlooked for promotions, they will be unhappy. This will affect their productivity or even lead them to resign in search of greener pastures.
If you run a small business, promotions may not always be possible but you can still provide growth. You can do this by upskilling your employees. Train them, share resources and support them when they want to learn something new.
Another growth tool is mentoring and coaching. Pair employees with someone more experienced so they can acquire hands-on knowledge.
Another way to show you support employee growth is by helping them map out their career path. Have one-on-one conversations in which employees can share their goals. As a manager, you will have insight on some people’s talents and areas of weakness. You will be able to advise them on what steps they need to take to get to where they want to be in 2, 5 or 10 years.
This attention from managers will also contribute to happiness in the workplace.
According to research, one of the biggest reasons for workers’ dissatisfaction with their workplace is their boss or manager. A bad manager will lead to higher turnover, loss in morale and can fuel a toxic workplace. It is hard to imagine anyone being happy in such a workplace.
Equip managers with leadership skills that can enable them to support a positive work culture and promote happiness in the workplace.
Prioritise mental health
By now, we know the importance of mental health and how it affects every area of life, including work. Prioritising mental health is one way to promote happiness in the workplace.
When staff face mental health challenges, mood, morale and wellbeing suffer. This can affect the individual’s output, as well as that of teammates. To curb this, some workplaces have provided on-site or on demand mental health practitioners who can support not just employees but their dependents when they are unwell.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Workplaces can provide resources to help employees keep their mental health fit. These can include reading material, seminars and courses. In addition to helping those with challenges, these tools will help anyone prevent mental health challenges and equip colleagues to support one another in the midst of challenging times.
Medical insurance is one of the benefits many employers provide but there is a need to make the inclusion of mental health cover a norm as well.
How to promote happiness in the workplace: tips for employees
Be a team player
There are a lot of benefits to being a good team player. Productivity improves, work gets done faster, colleagues support each other and can learn from one another. It is also one of the ways to promote happiness in the workplace.
As an employee, you have the responsibility to do your best to maintain healthy team dynamics. You can do this by making sure you do your part and offering assistance to others when they need it. Helping teammates will not just help you get along better and build trust, it will make you feel good. It is well documented that we are happier when we help others.
It is easy to get along with the few people around you but you can take it one step further and connect with those in other teams and departments. Amongst other things, this will create better work relations and expose you to skills or ideas you might not otherwise have encountered.
Don’t neglect life outside of work
One of the ways to promote happiness in the workplace ironically requires paying attention to life outside the workplace. It is not uncommon to be faced with long hours that turn into long weeks and eventually months. This can very quickly lead to a work-life imbalance and result in unhappiness with work.
While busy periods are expected, it is possible to strike a balance between working hard and having hobbies and time for them, friends and loved ones. When we spend time away from work, we have a chance to rest, recharge and bring our best selves to our work. Plus, having interactions outside of work can enrich your creativity and improve work.
It is important to take breaks and use your leave days. They are there for a reason.
Taking into consideration the changes in the word ‘workplace’
In today’s world, ‘workplace’ doesn’t only refer to the office. Hybrid work, remote and virtual work all bring new dynamics to work. For some, the workplace is a café or a chair in the corner of the living room. In some cases, there is no direct manger or HR manager overseeing certain aspects of work. When this happens, the task to promote happiness in the workplace falls on the sole employee. Here are tips if you fall in these categories.
Create a dedicated work area
If you work from home, it might be tempting to lie in bed and work from there. This has been reported to have a few benefits, like helping you to relax as you work on a challenging project, however, over the long term it can be detrimental to your sleep and productivity.
Set up a corner in your house or room for work and you will give yourself that extra boost whenever you go there. Having a dedicated work space can help your brain to focus on work when you are there. This is similar to the advice given to dress up in your office clothes even when you work at home.
Creating a workspace, dressing up and assuming the ‘professional stance’ can help productivity. In addition it goes a long way in helping you to continue to see your home as a place of relaxation when you are done with work.
A good way to promote happiness in the workplace when you work outside of mainstream workplaces is to set boundaries. Receiving requests around the clock is a common feature of out of office work and freelance work. When you are caught between needing to make your business thrive and your personal well being, you might choose the former.
Unfortunately, taking all jobs at all times can lead to burnout which will compromise your business in the long run. Set boundaries like, which hours you work, what days you can work, be open about how much time you will need to finish one job so that you are not stretched too thin.
Sometimes, in order to promote happiness in the workplace when you don’t work in a structured workplace, you need to borrow some aspects from traditional workplaces.
If you work with remote teams, lean into technology to up the collaboration aspect. Tools like Miro enhance online visual collaboration that helps teams in different locations work better together, from brainstorming, writing down ideas, and leaving feedback on other members’ input.
One of the downsides of working from home is the social isolation. As social creatures, human beings need community. If you work alone or remotely, you can still create your own community and make the effort to spend time with them.
You can have virtual or in-person meet ups with colleagues or others in your field. Instead of working alone at home every day, you might consider a shared work space where you can sit in a room filled with other workers. These are people you can share a cup of coffee with or even a joke during breaks.
And if work spaces are not for you, you can always consider working at your favourite café or coffee shop where you will have some human interaction.
Observe your productivity rhythms
In as much as you should take the positive parts of working in an office, such as easy socialisation, you should also embrace the perks of working in a less structured workplace. One of those is the ability to have a very flexible schedule and to work when you feel like working.
To promote happiness in a flexible workplace, take note of your most productive hours. If 9 to 5 does not work for you, work when you feel like it and you will be happier.
Why you should promote happiness in the workplace
While happiness is subjective, in that what might make one person happy may not have the same effect on the other, employers and employees alike stand to gain a lot from the practice of happiness. These are some reasons why it is important to promote happiness in the workplace.
Happy employees stay at jobs for longer
Research carried out by the iOpener institute found that happy employees stay with their companies four times longer than their unhappy counterparts. This means that happiness can serve as a retention tool.
Happy employees are more productive
The same research study found that happy employees commit twice as much time to their tasks as their unhappy colleagues. In addition, they have 65% more energy than unhappy employees.
Happiness is contagious
In a happy workplace, you will find employees smiling and being nicer to each other. Happy employees positively impact the mood of their colleagues, leading to a happier and warmer workplace.
Given the amount of time people spend at work (a third of your life according to some studies), it is important that the workplace is somewhere individuals can find happiness. It improves productivity, retention and wellness. The task to promote happiness in the workplace falls on both employers and employees.
According to the Happiness is a Habit book, happiness is about cultivating habits rather than making one off changes. To promote happiness in the workplace, employees and employers should be open to committing to positive habits.